Families Reunited As Western Australia's Hard Border Comes Down
After almost two years
Families and friends reunited at Perth airport on Thursday, with the first passengers touching down to celebrate the border restriction removal.
Both interstate and overseas travellers arrived in Perth for the first time in almost 700 days, separated by strict restrictions due to pandemic uncertainty.
Arrivals from Sydney and Singapore landed just after midnight on Thursday. Almost 5,000 people are projected to enter the state today, and a tally of nearly 30,000 incomers over the coming days.
As the border falls, mandated restrictions have risen - incomers will be subject to level two changes from Thursday.
There are limits on home gatherings, 50% capacity for major sporting venues, along with a statewide mask mandate upholding the pillars of policy guidelines.
While Premier Mark McGowan hinted at reinstating border restrictions if the pandemic takes a turn for the worse, leading experts believe it's in the past.
Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, says the border dividing is now redundant and would only be required as a "last resort".
"It is likely the last of it in the current pandemic," Bennett said.
"It is now redundant as we move beyond COVID-zero.
"It would only be a last resort if we had a particular variant of concern and were sure that it was only in one part of the country that you might mount an argument to restrict movement domestically, in order to contain and manage locally."
The state government say the border policy was well accepted by West Aussies, evidently cited through the dominant election results last year.
McGowan ensures helping keep locals safe was a top priority. While family events were missed, the goal was always for protection of health.
"Admittedly, at times, it has been difficult for people. And some people have missed out on family reunions and the like.
"But our border has worked, all of the other measures we put in place have worked."
Statistically, Western Australia has recorded 10 deaths from the virus, the lowest figure of any Australian jurisdiction.
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