New Zealanders will soon enjoy quarantine-free travel to Western Australia and if the state shuts again to jurisdictions it will slash the number of days of no community transmission needed to reopen.
Under changes announced on Friday, any jurisdiction that is deemed a “low risk” will move to a “very low risk” after 14 days of no community spread of COVID-19, rather than 28 days.
From midnight on April 19, Western Australia will also treat New Zealand like any other local jurisdiction and classify it as “very low risk”, which will effectively create a trans-Tasman travel bubble.
That means New Zealanders can undertake quarantine-free travel to Western Australia, but they will need to complete a G2G pass.
“This is an encouraging step forward,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Friday.
Queensland will also transition to a “very low risk” state from April 19.
Meanwhile, Western Australia will allow major sport and entertainment venues with fixed seating to have 100 per cent capacity from midnight on Saturday.
Mr McGowan said that included Optus Stadium and RAC Arena, as well as theatres, cinemas and places of worship.
“This is a big step forward in the removal of restrictions and one that we can only take due to the hard work from West Australians across the community, giving health experts the confidence to proceed,” he said.
The 75 per cent limit for restaurants, clubs and cafes with dedicated seating, and the two square metre rule for pubs, nightclubs, bars and other music events, will remain in place for now.
Chief health officer Andy Robertson has recommended the situation be reviewed in one month.
Mr McGowan also released the findings of an independent review into Western Australia’s hotel quarantine system.
He said 16 recommendations had been made to improve hotel quarantine arrangements and the state government supported all of them, with several already implemented and progress being made on others.
He noted more than 40,000 people had moved through the hotel quarantine system in Western Australia, but said improvements could always be made.
The review by Professor Tarun Weeramanthri was launched after a hotel quarantine worker, known as case 903, contracted a highly contagious variant of coronavirus.
Among the key recommendations already implemented are strengthening testing regimes for hotel quarantine workers, preventing high-risk staff from having a second job and independent assessments of ventilation systems.
A new strategic multi-agency quarantine advisory panel will also be established.
More than 64,000 people have received the vaccine in Western Australia, including more than 11,000 who have had two doses.
Health Minister Roger Cook said about 28,000 people had received the AtsraZeneca jab.
But on Thursday night, Dr Robertson said people aged under 50 who had the AstraZeneca vaccine booked should not show up for their appointment.
He said AstraZeneca vaccinations would only be given to people aged 50 years and over.
“People under 50 who are booked in to receive their AstraZeneca vaccine will have their appointments cancelled,” he said.
“If you have a booking tomorrow or in coming days, please do not show up for your appointment.”
Anyone aged under 50 who has already received their first AstraZeneca vaccine can safely receive their second dose.
“You should not cancel your second vaccination booking,” Dr Robertson said.
“For people who have a current Pfizer vaccine booking, please continue to attend your appointment as booked.”
Mr McGowan said one in 250,000 people in Europe had developed a blood clot after getting the AstraZeneca jab.
“It is important to remember, the side effect is extremely rare,” he said.