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Parliamentary Questions

Question On Notice No. 3125 asked in the Legislative Council on 18 August 2020 by Hon Martin Aldridge

Question Directed to the: Minister for Environment representing the Minister for Police
Minister responding: Hon M.H. Roberts
Parliament: 40 Session: 1
Question

I refer to restrictions placed upon entry to Western Australia arising from COVID-19, and I ask
:
(a) will the Minister please provide a breakdown of the 6,661 people that were exempt from quarantine since 5 April 2020, based upon data held by police
;
(b) how many applications have been made by Western Australian residents to return to Western Australia since 5 April 2020 from
:
(i) international applications
; and
(ii) interstate applications; and
(c) of those identified in (b), how many were declined from
:
(i) international applications
; and
(ii) interstate applications?

Answered on 8 October 2020

The Western Australian Police Force advise:

(a) As part of its response to protecting the community from COVID-19, the Western Australia Police Force, gave priority to developing processes that allowed the timely processing of applications for entry. The first five months of managing entry to the State has been based on ensuring the systems and processes are in place to assist the Western Australian community. The G2G Pass has been critical to this process and placed Western Australia ahead of other States.

The priority was to keep the community safe and support the State Emergency Coordinator and the police in management of the borders rather than collecting data. Now the State has systems, processes and procedures in place, the Western Australia Police Force is in the process of refining its data collection options rather than relying on time consuming and less reliable manual counting.

Whilst every entry into WA is individually recorded and can be searched, it would be unreasonably onerous to collate the categories of persons who were not required to quarantine since 5 April 2020 and, consequently, it is not possible to extract statistical data as to the categories of persons who were not made subject to 14 days quarantine. This is due to the complexity and changing nature of the Directions and the varied nature of applications to enter WA. 

The Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions which came into effect on 5 April 2020, and have been amended on a number of occasions, provide for certain categories of people who are not required to quarantine upon entry to WA. The complexity of the Directions and approvals is such that all applications are considered on their merits. Quarantine decisions are made based on the individual’s situation and the directions existing at that time.

Travellers seeking to enter WA are encouraged to use G2G Pass or the Western Australian Entry Application form, however this is not a condition of entry. If an individual does not seek approval to enter WA prior to travelling to the State, they will be assessed to determine whether they are an "exempt traveller" within the meaning of the Closing the Border Directions at their point of entry. Regardless of the method by which persons entering WA apply for approval as an exempt traveller, the quarantine requirements for each traveller are assessed and confirmed or varied on arrival.

The categories of persons who are not required to quarantine for 14 days under the Closing the Border Directions currently include:

  • Senior government officials responsible for the safety of the nation or state against threats such as war, terrorism and espionage.
  • Active military personnel required to be on duty in WA.
  • A member of the Commonwealth Parliament (representing WA or a WA electoral division) who has only been in WA or the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, South Australia or Tasmania in the previous 14 days (however, conditions apply for 14 days after entry that require the person to keep a record of close contacts, wear a face mask when in public or in the presence of other persons, not to attend hospitals and other high-risk settings, and to only attend public gatherings or events in their official capacity).
  • A person who is carrying out a function under a law of the Commonwealth.
  • A person providing transport or freight and logistics services. These travellers are subject to a testing regime, personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene and isolation requirements when out of their vehicles.

In accordance with the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Amendment Directions, which came into effect on 7 July 2020, persons and categories of person who previously were not required to quarantine for 14 days may now be made subject to terms and conditions, which may include a quarantine direction, or a modified quarantine direction. A modified quarantine direction accommodates circumstances where, for example, persons are required to quarantine when they are not performing essential work in WA, and the person may be made subject to additional social distancing and hygiene requirements while they are performing that work.

Travellers in this category include:

  • Specialists required for industry and business continuity where the service is time-critical.
  • Persons responsible for critical maintenance or repair of infrastructure critical to WA.
  • Persons employed or engaged in agriculture, food production or primary industry.

In accordance with the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Amendment Directions (No 5), which came into effect on 28 August 2020, persons and categories of person who previously were not required to quarantine for 14 days may now be made subject to terms and conditions, which may include quarantine directions or modified quarantine directions. Travellers in this category include:

  • Health services personnel requested to enter WA by the Chief Health Officer or the Director General Department of Health: terms and conditions, including a modified quarantine direction may be applied
  • A member of the Commonwealth Parliament representing WA or an electoral division of WA (who has not been in Victoria in previous 14 days and is not referred to above in the categories of persons who are not given a direction to quarantine for 14 days) may be issued with a self-quarantine direction, but is subject to exceptions which allow the member to leave self-quarantine to perform official functions with terms and conditions applied.
  • A member of the Commonwealth Parliament not representing WA or an electoral division of WA (who has not been in New South Wales or Victoria in previous 14 days) may be issued with a self-quarantine direction, but is subject to exceptions which allow the member to leave self-quarantine to perform official functions with terms and conditions applied.
  • Emergency services workers: terms and conditions, including a modified quarantine direction may be applied.
  • Judicial officers or staff members of a court, tribunal or commission: terms and conditions, including a modified quarantine direction may be applied.

In accordance with the Paragraph (5e)(ii) (Flight Crew and Transiting Aircraft Passengers Approval (No. 4), which came into effect on 27 August 2020, domestic flight crew ordinarily resident in WA who have been in New South Wales or Victoria in the previous 14 days are now subject to a self-quarantine direction for 14 days or for the duration of their layover, whichever period is shorter.

In accordance with the Exempt Traveller (International and Domestic Flight Crew) Approval and Conditions (No. 4), which came into effect on 27 August 2020:

  • International flight crew members who are not ordinarily resident in WA are required to quarantine in an approved crew hotel for the duration of their layover, whichever period is shorter.
  • Domestic flight crew members who are not ordinarily resident in WA are required to quarantine at a crew hotel for 14 days or the duration of their layover, whichever period is shorter, unless they are required to remain at the terminal to embark another flight departing WA (in which case, they will not be required to quarantine as they do not leave the terminal).
  • International flight crew members who are ordinarily resident in WA are required to self-quarantine at suitable premises for 14 days or the duration of their layover, whichever period is shorter.
  • Domestic flight crew who are ordinarily resident in WA and have not been in New South Wales or Victoria in the previous 14 days are not required to quarantine.

In accordance with the Approval for Transiting Aircraft Passengers (No 3), which came into effect on 27 August 2020, international and domestic short-term transiting aircraft passengers (passengers whose next flight departs within 8 hours) are permitted to enter WA without quarantining, provided that they remain at the departure terminal until their next flight, and are subject to social distancing and hygiene requirements during that period of time.

In accordance with the Exempt Traveller (Indian Ocean Territories Traveller) Approval (No 2), which came into effect on 14 August 2020, persons entering WA from an Indian Ocean Territory and who have not been outside of the Indian Ocean Territories or WA in the 14 days prior to their arrival in WA are not required to quarantine.

In accordance with the Approval for Maritime Crew (No. 3), which came into effect on 18 August 2020:

  • Crew members disembarking a vessel are not required to quarantine upon arriving in WA if they are scheduled to catch a flight out of WA that departs within 24 hours, provided that they remain on the vessel for as long as is consistent with having enough time to leave on the flight and will be required to remain in the departure terminal until their flight departs (as well as being subject to social distancing and hygiene requirements).
  • Crew members disembarking a vessel are not required to quarantine upon arriving in WA if they are scheduled to catch a flight out of WA that departs more than 24 hours after their vessel is leaving WA, provided that they quarantine at a crew hotel until they need to travel to the airport to board their outbound flight. In those circumstances, the crew member may be quarantined at a crew hotel for less than 14 days.
  • Crew members disembarking a vessel who are ordinarily resident in WA will be permitted to enter WA, provided that they self-quarantine at suitable premises for 14 days less any time at sea during which no person came aboard the vessel, or since the last person came aboard the vessel. In those circumstances, the crew member may be quarantined for less than 14 days.

In accordance with the Approval for Rig or Platform Crew (No.2), which came into effect on 18 August 2020:

  • Rig or platform crew members are not required to quarantine upon arriving in WA from a rig or platform if they are ordinarily resident in WA and do not meet certain criteria which has the effect that they are required to quarantine (for example, having had contact with a person displaying symptoms in the previous 14 days).
  • Rig or platform crew members who are ordinarily resident in WA and who are required to quarantine may be required to quarantine for a period less than 14 days because, in certain circumstances, their time on the rig or platform is counted towards their 14 day quarantine period, with the result that they will be required to quarantine for a period that is less than 14 days.
  • Rig or platform crew members are not required to quarantine upon arriving in WA from a rig or platform if they are due to leave WA on a flight within 24 hours, provided that they enter WA on a flight that allows them to enter as close in time as possible to the time of their departing flight, and they will be required to remain in the departure terminal until their flight departs (as well as being subject to social distancing and hygiene requirements).
  • Rig or platform crew members are not required to quarantine upon arriving in WA from a rig or platform if they are due to leave WA on a flight in more than 24 hours, provided that they enter WA on a flight that allows them to enter as close in time as possible to the time of their departing flight, and they are then required to quarantine at a crew hotel until they need to travel to the airport to board their outbound flight. In those circumstances, a rig or platform crew member may be quarantined at a crew hotel for less than 14 days.

Recent changes to the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Direction mean that arrivals to Western Australia who have been in Victoria in the previous 14 days are allowed to complete self-quarantine, instead of in a hotel, where that is possible. The limited exemption categories for Victorian arrivals continue to apply and they continue to be subject to mandatory COVID-19 tests on arrival and on day 11 of their quarantine.

Also, the additional restrictions which had applied to New South Wales have been lifted. That means that the current conditions that apply to other States and Territories, except Victoria, now apply to New South Wales as well. 

Persons who are not given a 14-day quarantine direction and who have been in Victoria in the previous 14 days, and persons who are given modified quarantine directions may also be subject to additional terms and conditions, including:

  • Taking all reasonable steps to avoid coming within 1.5 meters of another person.
  • Taking all reasonable steps to limit interactions with other persons.
  • Coughing or sneezing into their elbow or a tissue.
  • Washing their hands often with soap and water or alcohol hand rub.
  • Wearing a face mask when in public.
  • Contacting the Department of Health if they develop symptoms.

Although certain persons are not subject to 14 days quarantine, they must comply with the COVID-19 presentation for testing requirements as applicable in their circumstances, which are contained in the Presentation for Testing Directions.

(b)-(c) The number of applications made by WA residents is not specifically recorded in a database. The Closing the Border Directions do not distinguish between people who are ordinarily resident in WA and other Australian citizens. Being a WA resident is not a general category of exemption under the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions.