WA slams border shut to SA after COVID outbreak

WA is stopping almost all travel from South Australia, where a growing COVID-19 outbreak forced the Governor and Opposition leader into isolation.

SA recorded 18 new cases on Thursday, its largest single-day tally for more than a year, nine days after SA’s borders opened to fully vaccinated travellers from Victoria and NSW.

The WA Government announced SA would be reclassified from “low” to “medium” risk as of 12.01am on Friday, which bans all arrivals from SA except for a small list of travellers.

The exemption list includes certain government officials, military personnel, MPs, a person carrying out a limited range of specialist functions and those granted a police exemption.

Any West Australian who had recently travelled to SA can return under compassionate grounds. On arrival they must self quarantine for 14 days and return multiple negative test results.

It’s the first time since August that WA, which is just days away from reaching 80 per cent double dose vaccination for over 12s, has put up a hard border with SA.

It also means WA now only permits quarantine-free travel from Queensland and Tasmania, which are both due to reopen their borders to all States before Christmas.

Mark McGowan said SA had “adopted a less cautious approach” and he believed the evidence showed “that being cautious is the right thing to do”.

“We’ve adopted a very different approach to South Australia. I just don’t want us to get COVID cases before such time as we have high levels of vaccination over 90 per cent and that’s why our approach is so cautious,” the Premier said.

Sixteen of SA’s new cases were linked to a school reunion last weekend. Former SA premier Jay Weatherill was among the guests who has since tested positive.

The cluster has forced 210 close contacts to quarantine for seven days but officials expect that number to increase. “It’s quite clear we do have COVID in our state now,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said.

Among the close contacts forced into isolation were SA Governor Frances Adamson, SA Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas and his deputy Susan Close.

Because of the virus scare, SA Health initially advised the Parliament it should not sit but after investigations, Thursday’s afternoon session – the last before next year’s SA election – went ahead.

“It’s quite clear we do have COVID in our State now,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said.

“This looks as though it was linked to someone coming from NSW. But I think there will be other chains of transmission.”

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