It’s the free-travel feeling Australians haven’t felt for a good 12 months.
But after Western Australia officially eased border restrictions with Victoria overnight, the entire country is enjoying free travel across interstate borders without have to undergo quarantine.
It’s the first time since coronavirus arrived that Australians have been free to travel across the country without undergoing quarantine, and is the first time WA has had no quarantine requirements for any state or territory since border restrictions were introduced last April.
But following a recent case in both Queensland and NSW over the weekend, there are fears the border restrictions could snap back into place.
Victorian health officials are weighing up border changes after a security guard working in hotel quarantine in NSW contracted COVID-19, which was reported in Monday’s state figures.
The health department revealed on Sunday night areas of NSW could be redesignated as red or orange zones as further information emerges about the 47-year-old guard who tested positive on Saturday.
A red zone designation means that people would be banned from entering Victoria if they were from that particular region, while an orange zone requires people travelling from that area to apply for a permit, get a COVID-19 test with 72 hours of arrival and self-quarantine until a negative result is received.
Health officials are also weighing up whether areas of Brisbane need to be redesignated as red or orange zones after a Queensland doctor at the Princess Alexandra Hospital tested positive.
There are two active cases of coronavirus in Victoria – both in hotel quarantine – with the state on a 16-day streak of no locally acquired cases.
The health department said chief health officer Prof Brett Sutton would have the final say on areas being redesignated as red or orange zones.
Auckland is currently the only region in Australia or New Zealand designated as an orange zone by Victorian health authorities. There are no red zones.
Meanwhile, Western Australia’s Department of Health has issued health advice for travellers who recently returned to Perth from NSW following the detection of the case, including the need to quarantine if they visited specific venues.
WA’s chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson said while the risk is deemed to be low, any Western Australians who visited Bexley Anestis Aquatic Centre between 9am and 9.30am and Pancakes on the Rocks restaurant between 10.45am and midday on Saturday, March 13, should get tested immediately and quarantine until March 27 – 14 days from March 13 when the case was considered to be infectious.
Despite WA’s eased border restrictions, Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday that authorities were keeping a close eye on new hotel quarantine-linked cases in Queensland and NSW.
Mr McGowan said that while his borders were open to all parts of the country, his Government would continue to be guided by medical advice.
“What you’ve seen with the Commonwealth Government is when necessary, they’ve shut the border to New Zealand,” Mr McGowan said.
“The borders work … they’ve kept Australia safe and they’ve kept Western Australia even safer. So if we need to, we’d do it again.”
Tasmania Health officials also issued a swift response to the virus case, calling on anyone in the state who have been at any of these locations specified by NSW Health at the dates and times listed to self-isolate immediately.