The great experiment is nearly over

13 12 2021

See most recent update, dated 21 Jan 2022 (below)

Our protected status is likely to be lifted soon (the actual date is expected to be late Jan/early Feb). From our state’s newspaper a few hours ago:

Mark McGowan is set to announce the date WA’s border will reopen to the rest of Australia and the world at 2pm. WA first introduced a hard border on April 6, 2020 – a measure described by Mr McGowan as “turning WA into its own island within an island” – meaning border controls have now been in place for 616 days and counting.

I hope someone does a case study of what our state did—we have 2.5+ million people living here (more than 2+ million just in the Perth metro area alone), yet we’ve only had just over 1000 COVID cases in almost 2 years, and fewer than 10 deaths from COVID in that same time. We’ve hardly ever worn masks, except for a few lockdowns when we went hard and fast to minimise potential exposure. Our hard borders have WORKED, and our day-to-day life within the state has been ‘normal’ for the past 2 years compared to many parts of the world. The time it brought for us was to get 80%+ of the population over 16 double-vaxxed, with single dose numbers up around 90%.

Our protected status will likely change once the borders reopen and COVID is allowed in. But with the vax rates we have, hopefully, the impact won’t be too dire.

Update: 5 February 2022 is the date we reopen to Australia and the world. From Mark McGowan, State Premier:

This is an incredible milestone for our State. We are one of the most vaccinated societies in the world and we have achieved this without having extended lockdowns, virus outbreaks or any community spread of the virus. We followed a different model to the others and it has worked. We have been able to get through the last two years safely because of the efforts of West Australians.

There will still be quite a lot of travel and large gathering restrictions around vaccination status, testing etc. But it’s a start.

And no, I won’t be getting on a plane to go anywhere in the foreseeable future!

Update 13 Jan 2022 from a press conference by the State Premier, Mark McGowan:

(from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/wa-expands-proof-of-vaccination-requirements/100754194)

West Australians will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access a wide range of venues and events from January 31, Premier Mark McGowan has announced.

Mr McGowan said proof of double-dose vaccination would be required for those aged 16 and older at hospitals, aged care facilities and all hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, taverns, nightclubs and where dine-in fast food is available.

The requirement will also extend to indoor entertainment venues including play centres, gaming and gambling venues including Crown Perth, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues.

Bottle shops, gyms, fitness centres, health studios, amusement parks and the zoo are also encompassed by the new rules, which already apply to events with more than 500 people, including music festivals and major stadiums.

There will not be many public places unvaccinated people can visit, but they will be permitted to get takeaway food and visit roadhouses and petrol stations.

Community sport and school-based events will also be exempt, unless at one of the specific venues listed.

Mr McGowan said life would become very difficult for the unvaccinated from January 31.

“No pubs, no bottle shops, no gym, no yoga classes, no gigs, no dancefloors, no hospital or aged care visits.

“If you choose to remain unvaccinated, you are choosing to put yourself at risk, you are choosing to put the people around you at risk, and you are choosing to increase the burden on our health staff.”

Mr McGowan said the proof of vaccination requirement would apply statewide and he expected the requirement would be in place “for years to come”.

He also flagged that he expected the vaccination requirement would be expanded to three doses in the future.

Update 21 Jan 2022: Our hard borders are to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Some conditions of entry have changed. On a personal level, I’m happy with this decision, but I know it will cause hardship for some industries and families. But then so would an uncontrolled outbreak of the Omicron variant, as evidenced at the moment in the eastern states where hospitals, supply chains etc. are under extreme pressure because of staff off sick. Full details: https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/mark-mcgowan-delays-wa-border-reopening-indefinitely-over-omicron-fears-c-5387219 and https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-20/wa-border-opening-delayed/100771492