In December last year, Western Australia (WA) announced that it would reopen its borders to international travellers from 5 February 2022. On this “locked in date” (their words, not mine), quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals would be replaced by on-arrival and post-arrival testing.
But there’s some deeply disappointing news on this front: the authorities have now decided to postpone WA’s reopening indefinitely, citing the health risks posed by the Omicron variant.
In light of what has occurred across the country, having closely assessed the situation over east and listening to the latest health advice, we have reworked WA’s Safe Transition Plan to fit the environment that now confronts us. pic.twitter.com/o7Qb2vRrMU
— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) January 20, 2022
Western Australia delays reopening
The original reopening plan called for the easing of interstate and international border restrictions from 12.01 a.m on 5 February 2022. International arrivals would instead be required to:
- Complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure
- Take a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to Western Australia
- Take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival in Western Australia and on Day 6 (the day of arrival is counted as Day 0)
However, WA’s Premier Mark McGowan has now delayed the state’s reopening, with a new date “considered over the next month”.
In his words:
I understand exactly what the means for many people who had been hoping to reunite without any restrictions, but from February 5 there are enhanced compassionate exemptions.
If we proceeded with the original plan, we would be deliberately ceding thousands upon thousands of COVID cases into WA and at this point in time that is not what I am going to do.
Especially when the science says we need to boost third doses and so many young children still need to get their vaccine. It would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now, I can’t do it.
The WA Premier had previously stated that Omicron would not delay the reopening and the date was locked in “barring some unforeseen emergency or catastrophe which we cannot predict”.
It’s surreal to think that just a few days ago, the talk was about bringing forward WA’s reopening, given that the state had ht 88% vaccinations and Omicron was already spreading within the community.
Some travel conditions will change on 5 February 2022, such as expanding the list of people exempt from the hard border. They will still be required to isolate for 14 days on arrival:
- Returning West Australians with strong recent connections with WA
- Returning West Australians with family connections in WA
- Compassionate grounds including funerals and palliative care or terminally ill visitation
- People entering for urgent or essential medical treatment
- People entering WA for national or state security reasons
- People with specialist skills
- Commonwealth and state officials, members of parliament, and diplomats
- Other extraordinary circumstances approved by the Chief Health Officer or Police Commissioner
What to do if you have a flight booking
Singapore Airlines must be experiencing whiplash from all these changes, having just last week pushed back its Perth VTL flights to 1 March 2022, before reverting them to 5 February 2022. Now it’s going to have to reaccommodate travellers once again- for some, the third time in less than a week!
|⚠️ Update from Singapore Airlines|
The airline’s complimentary rebooking policy applies to all ticket issued by 31 March 2022, so there won’t be any issues changing your flight to a future date (although a fare difference may apply). However, passengers will also be able to request a full refund, given this latest turn of events.
If you made your booking directly with Singapore Airlines, you can request a refund by filling up an Assistance Request Form. Otherwise, you should get in touch with the travel agency or partner airline who issued your ticket.
Singapore Airlines is still intending to run VTL flights from Perth starting 5 February 2022 as follows.
Where can you travel in Australia?
While Western Australia has blinked with its reopening, fully vaccinated Singapore citizens can still travel quarantine free to:
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- Queensland (from 22 January)
- South Australia
Non-stop flights from Singapore are available to Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney.
Western Australia has delayed its reopening indefinitely, which effectively takes its global isolation past the two-year mark. It’s bitterly disappointing for those looking forward to reuniting with friends and family, and to make matters worse, there’s no concrete target (e.g. booster rates) for when reopening will happen.
Perth Airport was expecting 80,000 interstate and international arrivals to land in the first two weeks of reopening. It’s going to remain quiet for some time yet.