Western Australia’s premier has cast doubt on the likelihood of allowing full interstate travel by Christmas, saying NSW could face months of restrictions.
The state’s tourism industry has called for a “no jab, no fly” coronavirus vaccination policy for all interstate arrivals to be implemented from December.
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall says it would promote safe and responsible travel and help the state move towards a new “COVID-norm”.
But Premier Mark McGowan has described it as premature given the situation in NSW, which on Monday recorded its third consecutive day of 800-plus new local cases.
“The thing about it is even if you’re vaccinated, you can transmit,” McGowan told reporters.
“When we get to a certain level of vaccination under the plan those sorts of things, particularly at phase D, will be possible but certainly not at this point in time.
“The real issue in Australia at the moment is what’s happening in NSW and how we’re going to get on top of it … rather than hypotheticals about what might happen in December or January or some point like that.”
National leaders are yet to identify the trigger for phase D, at which point international borders would open and cases managed without restrictions or lockdowns.
The tourism council said vaccine passports could be used to complement existing restrictions.
“This is the responsible way that West Australians can travel to visit their family and have certainty about returning,” Hall said.
WA already requires arrivals from NSW to have at least one vaccine dose and to return a negative test.
NSW border restrictions
From Thursday, West Australians in NSW will be denied entry on compassionate grounds under new “extreme risk” border restrictions.
Entry will be restricted to Commonwealth, state and specialist officials, who will be forced to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Since last week, more than 700 West Australians in NSW have heeded a call to return home and a further 600 are expected in the coming days.
McGowan has faced criticism for refusing to commit to ending lockdowns and border closures once most Australians have been vaccinated.
He reiterated on Monday that the national roadmap included scope for highly-targeted lockdowns even when the vaccination rate was at 80 per cent.
“Everything I’ve said is consistent with the national plan,” he said.
Meanwhile, a bulk carrier has arrived at Cockburn Sound, south of Perth, with suspected COVID-19 cases on board.
Sixteen of the 22 crew members aboard the MV Ken Hou are reporting elevated temperatures or respiratory symptoms and are likely to undergo testing.
Authorities are also monitoring the health of crew on the bulk carrier Poavosa Wisdom anchored near Fremantle.
The vessel had recently been in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.
WA recorded one new case in hotel quarantine overnight.