Western Australia To Close Its Borders Completely From Sunday
Western Australia will soon be an "island within an island" as the government moves to implement a hard border closure to manage the spread of coronavirus.
Premier Mark McGowan announced on Thursday that the "drastic steps" to close the state's border will be in place from midnight on Sunday.
"Based on the medical advice, we will move to introduce a hard border closure effective from midnight, or 11:59 pm, on Sunday night," he said.
"I want the message to be absolutely clear to any Western Australian over east who is thinking of coming back to WA.
If you need to get home to WA -- come home immediately.
"If you are an eastern-stater, and thinking about visiting WA -- forget about it."
Overnight, WA recorded eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total number to 400.
McGowan said while the small number of new cases in the state continues to be encouraging, "we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal".
He said the state's isolation is its "best defence" against the virus, and that the tough new measure will offer WA the best chance of minimising its spread.
"If you had asked me a couple of months ago that we would be closing the WA border, I would have laughed," the premier said.
"But, unfortunately, this is no laughing matter. This is serious. We are serious."
Exemptions to the border closure are being finalised but it will include health services, emergency service workers, transport, freight and logistics, national or state security and governance and courts and judicial services.
Workers with specialist skills that aren't available in WA will also be exempt, along with FIFO workers and their families who will need to self isolate for 14 days when they first enter the state.
McGowan said further exemptions will also apply on specific compassionate grounds.
The WA announcement came as Queensland moved to increase its border lockdown from midnight on Thursday.
"We're going to a hard border closure so people can expect to see a change to some of the streets that they would normally go through," Queensland's Disaster Co-ordinator Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said all Australians must prepare for a long period of living under severe restrictions, including not leaving home unless it's really necessary.
"The minimum I'm hearing is six months. If we flatten that curve, we are not going to reach the peaks until well into the middle of this year," she said.