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Australia WA 'open for business' over Christmas but Premier issues coronavirus hard border warning

07:20  02 december  2020
07:20  02 december  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The WA Premier warned opening borders prematurely could be devastating. WA is going it alone after becoming the only state or territory not to agree to lifting coronavirus restrictions by December at a meeting of National Cabinet on Friday. "I made it clear that Western Australia will not be agreeing

WA Premier Mark McGowan says a 3 million roads package will support more than 1,000 construction jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has defended the state's hard border amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria. Key points

map: WA is due to reopen to travellers from New South Wales and Victoria next Tuesday. (ABC News/Mark McGowan via Facebook) © Provided by ABC Health WA is due to reopen to travellers from New South Wales and Victoria next Tuesday. (ABC News/Mark McGowan via Facebook)

Festive season travel to and from Western Australia could be thrown into disarray if there is a coronavirus outbreak in any other state or territory.

WA will remove its hard border with New South Wales and Victoria next Tuesday, allowing travellers to spend a quarantine-free Christmas in the west.

It will leave South Australia as the only jurisdiction from which travel to WA is banned, except for people who meet strict exemption criteria.

Airlines are now scheduling dozens of extra flights to and from Perth in December and January to accommodate a rush of passengers planning cross-country family reunions at Christmas.

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West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he was "100 per cent confident" the state's new border arrangements would be safe, and believed there was an "extremely low" risk of coronavirus entering WA . Key points: Travellers will no longer need special reason to enter WA . Travellers from NSW and

WA Premier Mark McGowan admits his state is at risk of losing a legal challenge to its border closure, as lawyers for mining magnate Clive Palmer Mr McGowan said if WA lost the High Court battle over whether the border closure was unconstitutional, the state would have no choice but to abide by "the

But WA Premier Mark McGowan insisted he would not hesitate to reimpose the hard border at any time if there was an outbreak elsewhere.

"I don't expect there will be, but what we saw with South Australia is anything can happen at any point in time," he said.

"So all we would say is that we're open for business, but if we need to put the hard border back in place we will."

Mr McGowan dismissed concerns the message could discourage tourists from coming to WA.

"I'm just being honest," he said.

"If there's outbreaks over east, we'll have to put in place new measures.

"I think a lot of people, a lot of tourists will want to come to Western Australia from the east because we've done so well."

[CHART WA cases] (CHECK IT HAS BEEN UPDATED)

He said the requirement for those entering WA to register their travel plans via the G2G app would ensure any reimposed border controls would be well-managed.

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WA 's Premier says he will not put a timeframe on reopening the state's border , an issue expected to dominate the meeting of the National Cabinet tomorrow following a call by Prime WA Premier Mark McGowan spoke with the Prime Minister about the state's border on Thursday, the ABC understands.

WA 's hard border has come under scrutiny with claims exemptions for jobs are put before mental health concerns. Advocacy organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has joined growing calls for Western Australia 's hard border to be softened, suggesting the current system prioritises people

Airlines warn against another closure

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce yesterday warned against the reimposition of hard borders "when there is a temporary spike in one state or another".

"Australia as a whole needs certainty about state borders staying open, particularly when the testing and tracing framework is now so well established," he said.

"We continue to our call for a consistent set of rules that apply nationwide."

Mr McGowan had his own message for the airlines, urging them to "be reasonable" on airfare pricing in response to surging demand for flights to and from Perth from next week.

Some flights on routes from Melbourne and Sydney to Perth, scheduled for the days immediately following Tuesday's border reopening, were priced at up to $2,000 one way.

Virgin Australia and Qantas said the addition of dozens of extra direct flights to Perth in the coming weeks would bring down the cost of airfares.

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WA Premier Mark McGowan has insisted he will not be rushed into bringing down the state's hard border in response to the crushing of the second wave But he said WA 's hard border was critical to its record of more than six months without community transmission. Travellers have needed to obtain

It was all smiles for WA the Treasurer and Premier as they handed down the 2020 budget. Border credited with keeping COVID out. But plastered all over the McGowan Government's budget sell The Government credits the hard border with keeping coronavirus out of WA — and it warns dropping

Mr McGowan has ruled out a proposal from the WA Tourism Council for the State Government to subsidise flights to Perth to allow airlines to offer discount fares.

"The key to more affordable airfares is more flights and so I expect as demand increases, the additional flights come on," he said.

Tourism businesses rejoice

The decision to remove the hard border to Australia's two most populous states has been met with optimism from WA businesses that rely on trade from tourists.

"We were absolutely thrilled," said Elizabeth Arthur, who owns four Perth and Sydney retail stores that sell locally-made gifts and souvenirs.

She said her business had been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic because 70 per cent of her profits usually came from international tourists.

But she said JobKeeper had allowed her shops to stay open, and she hoped the ongoing ban on international travel would encourage more interstate tourists to come to WA.

"They actually can't fly anywhere else but they can fly to WA," she said.

"People who would probably never bring their kids here or never even think of coming, I imagine will be coming here, and that will make a huge impact."

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Three Pound Group, which operates bars in tourism hotspots like Elizabeth Quay and the Perth Stadium precinct, said it was hoping for an increase in customers.

"Even though it's not international borders [reopening], we're hoping for an influx in tourism for sure," sales and marketing manager Ebony Lane said.

"We just want to put on an exciting offering at all of our venues … just creating a memorable experience now that everyone can come back together and explore tourism in WA."

Quarantine breach charges laid

Meanwhile, two women have been charged with breaching their self-quarantine requirements after recently returning to WA from interstate.

Police said they visited a home in Rockingham yesterday where a 37-year-old woman and her four-year-old daughter were supposed to be quarantining for 14 days.

But they were not home and had allegedly taken a walk to a nearby park.

Police also visited a motel in Rivervale yesterday where a 50-year-old woman was meant to be self-quarantining.

It is alleged she had instead left in her car to visit a fast food restaurant.

Police also allege the woman left the motel on three other occasions during her stay to buy food.

Both women will now complete the remainder of their quarantine period at a hotel at their own expense.

Police said it was a reminder that while border restrictions were easing, quarantine orders were still being enforced.

Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Western Australia overnight, a man aged in his 30s and another in his 50s.

Both of the cases are in hotel quarantine after returning from overseas.

There are 19 active cases of coronavirus in the state.

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Twitter users question why Prince Philip didn't join Queen for carols .
The Queen gathered alongside family to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge back from their 1,250-mile UK tour - despite festivities taking place at Windsor Philip, 99, did not attend.The Queen gathered alongside Prince Charles and Camilla to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge back from their 1,250-mile 'morale boosting' tour of the UK - which attracted thinly veiled criticism from Wales and Scotland.

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