WA brings back COVID hard border for NSW

WA Premier Mark McGowan says a hard border with NSW is needed to protect West Australians.
WA Premier Mark McGowan says a hard border with NSW is needed to protect West Australians.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has urged NSW to take stronger measures to crush a worsening coronavirus outbreak, having slammed shut his own state's border.

The reintroduction of the hard border came into immediate effect on Wednesday, reclassifying NSW as a "medium-risk" jurisdiction.

Travel from anywhere in NSW is no longer permitted except for exempt travellers including senior government officials, active military personnel, federal politicians and freight workers.

Exemptions may also be granted on compassionate grounds including for West Australians who need to return home.

Those travellers must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and present for two coronavirus tests during that period.

The edict applies to anyone who has been in NSW since 12.01am on June 11, including those who have since travelled through other jurisdictions including the ACT.

NSW recorded 13 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the number of infections linked to the so-called Bondi cluster to 31.

"This is very unfortunate. We don't take any pleasure in this," Mr McGowan told reporters of his decision to close the border.

"Obviously we were hoping we were out of this environment. But unfortunately NSW is going through something serious, so we had to take action as a consequence."

NSW has so far resisted going into lockdown, instead restricting travel outside metropolitan Sydney for residents of seven local government areas.

Having clashed heads with NSW Liberal counterpart Gladys Berejiklian throughout the pandemic, WA's Labor premier called for stronger action.

"I'd just urge the NSW government to get this under control because this is a threat and a risk to the rest of the country," he said.

"If that means a lockdown, well then that's what should happen."

Mr McGowan added that the federal government should continue to distribute coronavirus vaccines to the states on a per-capita basis rather than by circumstantial need.

The border decision came as the last remaining capacity limits were removed across all WA venues under a transition to phase five COVID restrictions.

"Because we can close borders ... we have these opportunities available to us to have a free society, and that's a good thing," Mr McGowan said.

People who arrived from NSW prior to the hard border should continue to comply with existing directions, including 14 days' quarantine for anyone who has visited exposure sites.

The so-called Bondi cluster now stands at 31 after an unvaccinated Sydney airport limousine driver last week tested positive to the highly infectious Delta variant, which quickly started spreading at a busy shopping centre.

Eight of the cases reported on Wednesday attended a weekend birthday party which has been labelled a "super-spreader event".

Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand have also imposed bans on travel from much of Sydney.

Mr McGowan has indicated WA's quarantine restrictions for Victorians are likely to soon be eased given that state's outbreak has largely been contained.

Australian Associated Press