It would be months or even a year before Western Australia reopened its borders, the leader of the state said on the day it was initially expected to once again accept overseas travellers.
On 23 June, when Victoria had just a few hundred pending cases, Premier Mark McGowan announced that the borders would not reopen as scheduled on 8 August.
He said it could be a year before they did, on Saturday.
“It’s a long way away. I can’t put a date on it, but it is certainly months,” he told reporters.
“As to whether it’s before the end of the year, as to whether it’s before the middle of next year, I cannot put a date on it.”
“Every time you try and put a date on it, you have to change.”
Western Australia eradicated population transmission in April, but the number of active cases continues to rise every day in NSW and Victoria.
WA didn’t report any new COVID-19 cases overnight. The number for the state stands at 642.
Mr McGowan has previously ruled out a travel bubble with other low-case nations, and says the eastern states would have to eradicate the spread of population before considering removing border restrictions.
His stringent approach sparked a legal fight with Clive Palmer, who challenged the High Court ‘s border closures.
“What I can guarantee you is we won’t bring down the borders before we’re forced to by the High Court, which hopefully doesn’t happen, or before we get health advice it’s safe to do so,” Mr McGowan said on Saturday.
It comes as the state’s further streamlining of controls has again been postponed.
The last remaining limits on events within the borders of the state were set to end last month, enabling capacity crowds of 60,000 at Optus Stadium and lifting the two square metre limit at pubs and other locations.
But the Chief Health Officer of WA has again suggested halting the switch to phase five, citing concerns about outbreaks in the East.
Premier Mark McGowan says it will not take effect until the earliest of August 29.
“As a nation, we have entered the most dangerous phase of this pandemic,” he said on Friday.