Business ‘back in holding pattern’ following border delay

The State Government’s decision to cancel WA’s February 5 border transition and delay reopening indefinitely has put businesses back in a holding pattern with renewed uncertainty over when and how to prepare, says CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell.

Premier Mark McGowan last night (January 20) said the COVID-19 Omicron variant was a “new state of emergency” and that it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to reopen amid the current wave of infections in the Eastern States.

After previously pinning a reopening to a double-dose vaccination rate of 90 per cent, the Premier said a third dose was now needed to ensure the best protection possible, and signalled a preferred third dose target of 80-90 per cent. WA’s third dose rate is currently 25.8 per cent for people aged 16 and over; the double-dose rate is 88.9 per cent of people aged 12 and over.

Under the new border settings, approved travellers will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Returning Western Australians, with strong recent connections or direct legitimate family connections with WA;
  • Compassionate grounds including funeral, palliative care or terminally ill visitation;
  • Member of the family of an approved traveller;
  • People entering for urgent and essential medical treatment;
  • Reasons of national and State security;
  • Commonwealth and State officials, Members of Parliament, Diplomats;
  • Provision of specialist skills not available in WA, health services, emergency service workers;
  • People required to attend court matters, judicial officers and staff of court, tribunals and commissions; and
  • Special considerations and extraordinary circumstances determined by the State Emergency Coordinator or Chief Health Office.

Approved interstate travel requirements:

  • G2G Pass, under new exemption criteria;
  • Be triple dose vaccinated if eligible (double dose vaccinated if not eligible for third);
  • Return a negative pre-departure Rapid Antigen Test (24 hours prior to departure);
  • Undertake 14 days of self-quarantine at a suitable premises, with the same requirements for household members at the self-quarantine premises;
  • PCR testing within 48 hours of arrival and on day 12 of self-quarantine, and household members will also be required to do a PCR test on the traveller’s day 12;
  • Subject to mandatory use of G2G Now and in-person checks by WA Police as required; and
  • Additional requirements are in place for domestic road travel to keep WA safe.

International travel into WA will continue to be capped at 265 arrivals a week, the Premier confirmed.

For advice and resources see: CCIWA COVID-19 Support

Approved international travellers must:

  • Meet the Commonwealth requirements to enter Australia under the arrivals cap;
  • Undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine including, seven days in hotel quarantine and seven days of self-quarantine at a suitable premise, if eligible;
  • PCR testing on days one, six, nine and 12, and household members will also be required to do a PCR test on the traveller’s day 12;
  • Subject to mandatory use of G2G Now and in-person checks by WA Police as required; and
  • International travel indirectly into WA via another State or Territory will be subject to the same entry and quarantine requirements as domestic travellers.

Current entry arrangements remain unchanged for transport, freight and logistics, maritime, aircraft crew, rig/platform and specific industries approved by the State Emergency Coordinator and Chief Health Officer.

“The decision puts Western Australian businesses back in a holding pattern, trying to work out when and how to prepare for a reopening,” Rodwell said.

“It is critical the Government provide clarity as soon as possible on a new date, as well as the conditions under which businesses should expect to operate. We should not underestimate how difficult this news is to digest for thousands of WA businesses that rely deeply on markets outside of their home State.

“While we recognise the WA economy has performed comparatively well over the pandemic period, businesses in the international education, tourism, events and other sectors will be deeply disappointed with the announcement, as will those businesses looking forward to seeing some relief to acute skill shortages and supply chain pressures.

“More generally, businesses have been relying on the certainty of the February 5 date, with various operational decisions and investments made on this basis.”

See CCIWA’s full response here.

Rodwell added: “Our members have clearly identified that uncertainty around the plan to reopen the economy is their biggest concern.”

The Premier said a further review of border controls will be considered over the course of the next month.

For general advice on your individual situation call CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or via advice@cciwa.com.  

For legal advice specific to your situation, contact our team of Workplace Relations lawyers on (08) 9365 7746 or via BusinessLawWA@cciwa.com. 

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