Thousands of travellers rush into WA as the border reopens14th November 2020
Louis Biggs was among the first to cross the border in the early hours on Saturday morning, the first stop on an 11-hour journey to the tourist town of Broome, more than 1000 kilometres away.
“We are trying to get to Broome as soon as we can,” he told Nine News Perth.
“I’ve got family there, my mum’s waiting for me. I haven’t seen her in 222 days.”
Paige Adair arrived at the border checkpoint with her partner from the NT where the pair had become stuck after taking up a job offer in a remote Aboriginal community earlier this year.
Ms Adair said she “rang up the police about 100 times” after finding out border restrictions were loosening up to make sure she would be allowed to cross into WA.
“We were just meant to take up a job out there and we just couldn’t return home,” Ms Adair said.
“So it’s been a long process for us and mixed emotions, up and down. We are really happy that we finally got to the border and are ready to go.”
Ms Adair said they were planning to visit her sister in Derby before making the long drive south to Perth to celebrate Christmas with family.
“It’s the first time in five years that my mum’s had all three girls together, so it’s going to be very emotional for her,” she said.
Another 3500 to 4000 eastern states travellers are anticipated to arrive in WA each week following the transition from a ‘hard’ to a ‘controlled’ border, with 2000 arrivals from interstate expected to land at Perth Airport on Saturday alone.
Perth Airport, which recently achieved an international COVID-safe rating, said 11 interstate flights were scheduled to arrive on Saturday – two from Darwin, two from Adelaide, three from Brisbane and one each from Alice Springs, Hobart, Canberra and Sydney.
Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said the airport was equipped with touch-free hand sanitisers, additional signage, public announcements and floor markings to promote physical distancing.
He said there may be some processing delays as the new arrivals system is introduced, and asked travellers to have patience.
He also advised loved ones of those travelling from NSW and Victoria not to go to the airport to see them.
Interstate travellers no longer need an exemption to enter WA, but they sill need to fill in and submit a G2G pass outlining which states they have visited and who they have been in contact with.
Arrivals from Victoria and NSW also have to quarantine for 14 days at their home or a hotel.
Those travelling into WA by road from NSW or Victoria will likely be issued a direction to travel directly to the residence they will be quarantining in, or be asked to quarantine at a border hotel.
with Heather McNeill
Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.