Western Australia (WA) will today reopen its domestic borders to triple-vaccinated travelers.
The WA government initiated hard border restrictions with all other Australian states and territories to halt the spread of COVID-19, restricting all but essential travel and mandating quarantine periods. Notably, WA pushed back its planned February 5 reopening date due to surges in Omicron cases and deaths in Eastern states.
WA has recorded a record number of new cases, averaging almost 1,000 new infections a day in the last week. While the WA government has been successful in preventing mass community outbreaks, fear remains for Indigenous communities who may struggle to cope with a surge in case numbers owing to low vaccination rates and limited access to health services.
When WA reopens its borders, expect Omicron case numbers to rise rapidly in the short-term. Particularly, WA Health modeling predicts almost 500,000 people in WA will be infected with COVID-19 within 180 days. The border reopening will place stress on the state’s already overburdened health system. The end of domestic border restrictions will likely lead to a significant influx of workers destined to address the skill shortages in key industries in the medium-term, especially in the healthcare, construction, mining and resource sectors.
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Riley is an Analyst and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief, he focuses on security issues in Europe and the Middle East/North Africa.