Western Australia will join the New Zealand travel bubble on April 19 as part of a sweeping relaxation of COVID-19 measures announced by Mark McGowan this afternoon.
The Premier said Australia’s trans-Tasman neighbour be treated just like other States and Territories for the purposes of travel.
NZ will initially be classified as ‘very low risk’ — which means travellers arriving in WA will not be required to self-isolate.
However, NZ travellers will also be required to complete G2G applications before arriving in WA.
Mr McGowan also revealed the current requirement for 28 days of no community transmission before resuming quarantine-free travel with another State following an outbreak has also been slashed in half.
The major policy follows a review by Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson who analysed outbreaks and the subsequent periods of community transmission in other jurisdictions.
Health Minister Roger Cook said that across Australian since the start of the pandemic no new COVID-19 case had been detected more than six days after the last known case of community transmission in the locality.
“The latest outbreak in Queensland highlighted infected close and casual contacts were rapidly contract traced, tested and diagnosed in the first six days, and no cases were subsequently recorded over the following six days,” Mr Cook said.
“The review found that the average incubation period is five to six days and highlighted the importance of vaccination, testing, and PPE on frontline staff to containing the virus.”
In other changes, Optus Stadium will return to full capacity from tomorrow, paving the way for a full house at West Coast’s clash with St Kilda.
Capacity limits on all seated sporting and entertainment venues — which also includes RAC Arena and HBF Stadium — will be scrapped at midnight.
Other venues that will return to 100 per cent capacity at midnight include places of worship, cinemas, concert halls, theatres and auditoriums.
The 2sqm rule continues to apply to all other venues — including restaurants, cafes and bars — but Mr McGowan said that would be reviewed in a month’s time.
“There are some restrictions that are (still) needed based on health advice, namely the 75 per cent limit capacity limit for restaurants, clubs and cafes with dedicated seating and the two square metre rule for pubs, nightclubs, bars and other music events,” Mr McGowan said.
“However, in the context of continued absence of community transmission and the continued rollout of the vaccine across the country for vulnerable groups, the Chief Health Officer anticipates that the benefits of retaining the final physical distancing and mass gathering restrictions may well be reduced, and therefore could possibly be removed.”
Australian Hotels Association (WA) chief executive Bradley Woods welcomed the increased capacity limits but said remaining restrictions on hotels, bars and pubs should be lifted as soon as possible.
“WA’s hospitality industry has operated for over a year under trading restrictions, despite COVID-19 being virtually non-existent in the state,” Mr Woods said.
“With winter quickly approaching, capacity restrictions should be removed for all venues within the month so that businesses can maximise revenue to offset the quieter period ahead.”
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall welcomed the NZ bubble and said the country was a bigger source of incoming travellers than Tasmania or the ACT and worth about $100 million to local operators annually.
“Perth businesses and jobs have been hardest hit in WA as the gateway for out-of-state travellers, so it is important that we get visitors into our CBD hotels and attract more leisure tourists for our tours and experiences,” Mr Hall said.