Nervous families are reconsidering their travel plans to Victoria as the WA Government reassesses its controlled border arrangements amid more new community cases of COVID-19 in Melbourne.
- New cases in Melbourne are forcing WA families to rethink travel
- WA’s Chief Health Officer is seeking updated medical advice
- WA has quickly reimposed border restrictions in the past
One family at Perth Airport cancelled their trip to Melbourne soon after checking their bags in, at the same time as three new community cases were revealed in Victoria, with a further two cases announced later, taking the total to eight.
Micheal McCormick and Lorrienne Gannon arrived at Perth Airport this morning with their 18-month-old son Hudson McCormick, ready for a four-day holiday in Melbourne.
Already hesitant after three cases were announced yesterday, they abandoned their trip when news of the three additional cases emerged this morning.
“We decided not to go at this stage is probably the better decision because we don’t know what’s going to happen, if the border is going to get shut or how bad this is going to turn into,” Mr McCormick said.
“So at this stage it’s the best idea not to [go].
Ms Gannon said they did not want to risk Hudson’s health in Melbourne.
“If he got sick and I didn’t get sick, I couldn’t go in the hospital with him, so lots of things to think about,” she said.
“And I don’t want to be stuck in my house for two weeks.”
Government awaiting new advice
The McGowan Government is waiting on updated health advice from WA’s Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson, who is consulting with his counterparts in Victoria.
At the moment, Victoria is classified as a “very low risk” state, meaning people coming from there can enter WA without having to quarantine after the hard border was lifted on December 11.
But WA’s criteria for “very low risk” is 28 days of no community cases.
If Victoria is now reclassified as “low risk”, anyone arriving into WA would be forced to self-quarantine for 14 days
The head of Monash University’s epidemiological modelling unit, James Trauer, said it would be “extremely cautious” for WA to tighten Victorian border rules off the case numbers reported so far, but warned that step could be necessary in coming days if the situation worsened.
“But I think WA should be ready to look at the situation as it evolves over the coming days.”
The WA Government has acted very quickly to reimpose restrictions in the past.
When there was an outbreak in South Australia, the requirement for two weeks self-quarantine was announced within hours.
The decision was made while one plane from Adelaide was in mid-flight, and surprised travellers arriving in Perth who learned they would have to self-isolate.
Travel plans disrupted
Louise Dumas was also at Perth Airport travelling to Melbourne.
Her husband should have been with her but cancelled at the last minute, because he needed to be able to get back to work without quarantining.
Ms Dumas, who was going to visit her grandchildren, including a new baby, said she had made sure she had plenty of time in case border arrangements shifted.
“I’m prepared for it because the situation is constantly changing and I really want to go over there despite all the uncertainty to see my grandchildren,” she said.
“So I’m prepared to take that risk.”
Ashley Sherar was also prepared to take the risk. The Perth resident was travelling to Melbourne to visit her boyfriend for the first time.
Since they started their long-distance relationship, the pair have never been in the same city.
Craig Smith and his two children Bella and Jack, who were going to visit family in Melbourne, were concerned but not badly enough to cancel their trip.
“I think they’ll nip it in the bud pretty quickly,” Mr Smith said optimistically.
“It’s worth going over to see loved ones. It’s been a while.”
Returning travellers relieved
Many travellers who arrived back in Perth from Melbourne on New Year’s Eve expressed relief about making it back into WA before potential border changes.
One woman who spoke to media on arrival said her family of six hastily rearranged their flights last night after hearing about the cases in Melbourne.
“We thought ‘let’s just pay the money and let’s get back’.”
Prices of air tickets from Melbourne to Perth have risen sharply since the new COVID-19 cases came to light, with the only available seats on a direct flight between the cities on New Year’s Day selling for $1,200.
The cheapest indirect flight, which involves a detour to Cairns and a four-and-a-half hour layover, costs $628.