The Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, recently announced new restrictions for Australians in the region who have refused to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.1 Premier McGowan said that proof of COVID vaccination will be required before anyone can enter a wide range of public spaces and engage in activities deemed by the government to be “high-risk,” including visiting friends and family at hospitals and retirement homes or nursing care facilities, restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, amusement parks, zoos, museums, liquor stores, fitness centers and musical and large sports or other entertainment events.
The proof of COVID vaccination requirement applies to everyone over the age of 16 years.2 Premier McGowan stated: “Life will become very difficult for the unvaccinated from Jan. 31. No bottle shops, no gym, no yoga classes.”3
Unvaccinated Parent’s Visit to Dying Child in Hospital Considered on Case-by-Case Basis
One of the new restrictions that Premier McGowan has implemented, beginning Jan. 31, 2022, is that unvaccinated parents are banned from seeing their sick children in hospitals unless they apply for a special exemption that would allow visitation.4
Andrew Robertson, MD, Chief of Health Officer of Western Australia said:
Entry into a hospital or RACF by unvaccinated individuals (in those jurisdictions) is prohibited unless an exemption is in place or permitted under compassionate grounds, such as visiting a family member during the terminal phase of their life… In situations where visitation is permitted by unvaccinated individuals, additional risk mitigation precautions are required to be met by the individual.5
Dr. Robertson said that the government would take into consideration medical exemptions based on extenuating and compassionate grounds for unvaccinated vaccinated, including end-of-life visits on a case-by-case basis.6
These same restrictions are already implemented in other states in Australia including New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.7
Premier Vows to Make Life “Very Difficult” for the Unvaccinated
Premier McGowan said these new restrictions could be potentially in place for years. Prior to the implementation of the restrictions, he warned that life for unvaccinated Australians would become “very difficult” when the vaccine passport program launches.8 He said:
They won’t be able to go to the football, they won’t be able to work in a whole range of industries. They won’t be able to go to concerts, restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs, fitness centers, gyms—all those things will be restricted. Life is about to get very difficult for you… it’s a big encouragement to go and get yourself vaccinated.9
Western Australia Will Continue to Keep Borders Closed
Western Australia, which has come to be known as the “hermit state,” was set to open its borders on Feb. 5, 2022 after two years of closure soon after the COVID pandemic was declared. However, Premier McGowan decided to halt the opening of. borders due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Initially, Australia had strict international and domestic border closures but, as time went on, many states, with the exception of Western Australia, lifted their border restrictions in response to criticism that border closures violated citizens’ rights to travel. Premier McGowan recently said the border would be closed indefinitely.10
Border closures in Western Australia have impacted business operations in the state. Wesfarmers, a Perth-based company and one of the largest private employers in Australia, decided to relocate to the east coast of Australia. The company said in a statement that it is now “virtually impossible to run a national business from Perth.”11
Wesfarmers has questioned the need to keep the borders shut and the lengthy quarantine times. “Unfortunately, in Western Australia we remain in limbo and we need a plan for how we move forward,” stated the company.12
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1 Marin-Guzman D, Moore T, Rudra N. WA to impose Australia’s toughest proof-of-vaccination rules. AFR Jan. 13, 2022.
4 McPhee S. Unvaccinated Parents Will Be Banned From Seeing Their Own Sick Kids in Western Australian Hospitals Under Strict New Laws From Mark McGowan. National Times Australia Jan. 29, 2022.
8 McPhee S. Unvaccinated parents will be BANNED from seeing their own sick KIDS in Western Australian hospitals under strict new laws from Mark McGowan. Daily Mail Jan. 27, 2021.
10 Fildes N. Western Australia keeps border shut to protect world-leading mines. Financial Times Feb. 1, 2022.