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Perth VTL cancelled: WA axes quarantine-free arrivals indefinitely

'Westralia' chickens out of its international border reopening, pushing back quarantine-free travel to and from Singapore indefinitely in the wake of Omicron.

One of the most anticipated international border relaxations for Singapore residents has been the potential for two-way quarantine-free travel to and from Western Australia, with regular flights between the Lion City and Perth originally set to reconnect families and eager tourists starting on 5th February.

Unfortunately it’s bad news from Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan, who has chickened out of the idea in wake of large Omicron case numbers elsewhere in Australia, by announcing that his “set in stone” date for border reopening is being… well… unset from stone completely!

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McGowan had previously said only “an unforeseen catastrophe” would delay border reopening.

The latest plan

In a press conference yesterday evening McGowan said that Western Australia will now continue to impose its “hard border” until further notice.

This requires international arrivals to:

  • have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before departure; and
  • have G2G pass; and
  • quarantine for 14 days; and
  • conduct COVID-19 PCR testing on days 1, 6, 9 and 12.

“From February 5th the hard border will stay…”

“…it would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now.”

Mark McGowan, Western Australia Premier

Western Australia will also impose 14 days quarantine on interstate (domestic Australia) arrivals, who can enter if they have had a booster dose (if eligible) and have returned a negative rapid antigen test (RAT/ART) within 24 hours.

The state will review its future border decisions “over the course of the next month”, according to McGowan, effectively meaning the delay for border reopening is indefinite, given that any number of reviews could conclude the ‘status quo’ should remain in force.



 


 

What it means for Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has been in a bit of a yo-yo with its Perth Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) lately.

While the carrier launched its quarantine-free VTL flights with gusto back in mid-December 2021, offering flights from 5 February 2022, last week there was a strange postponement announced until March 2022, leaving low-cost subsidiary Scoot to launch the VTL.

Singapore Airlines has been flip-flopping on its proposed Perth VTL flight schedules lately. (Photo: AirImages / Shutterstock)

By Monday this week SIA had a change of heart and reinstated its own Perth VTL plans from 5th February.

Singapore Airlines has now wiped all availability on its Singapore – Perth flights until 1st April 2022.

Designated VTL flights by SIA and Scoot in the Perth – Singapore direction, however, are still loaded from 5th February 2022.

All SIA Perth – Singapore flights are once again designated VTL services from 5th February 2022

Remember there is nothing to stop both airlines operating designated VTL flights from Australia to Singapore, which do not require any approval from the Australian side.

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Indeed SIA already commenced VTL flights from Brisbane to Singapore on 15th January 2022, a week ahead of Queensland relaxing its entry requirements for overseas travellers.

Update from Singapore Airlines
(21st January 1pm)

  • Singapore Airlines (SIA) will not begin ‘For Eligible Passengers Only’ (FEPO) flights from Singapore to Perth from 5 February 2022 as previously announced, after the Western Australian authorities delayed the reopening of the state’s borders.
  • SIA remains guided by Western Australia’s regulations, and we will adjust our flights accordingly. We would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.
  • Please note that SIA’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights from Perth to Singapore are unaffected, and will start as planned on 5 February 2022.
  • Affected SIA customers who booked directly with us may use our Assistance Request Form to seek a refund of the unused portion of their ticket, if eligible.  Those who require urgent assistance may reach out to their local Singapore Airlines reservation office. For bookings made through a travel agency or partner airline, customers should contact them directly for assistance.

What about other airlines?

It now seems unlikely that Jetstar Asia will pursue its four times weekly Perth flights from 12th February 2022, given the latest border restrictions.

Jetstar Asia isn’t likely to commit to Perth flights while no one can enter WA quarantine-free. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

Qantas is also loading its Perth – Singapore flights from 27th March, but again “what’s the point?” springs to mind, unless there is some solid indication that two-way quarantine-free travel is a possibility.

Where you can travel in Australia

Singapore citizens can now travel to any Australian state apart from Western Australia and Queensland, which reopens its international borders from 22nd January.

Direct flights are available to Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney, from where travellers can make domestic connections to the Australian Central Territory and Tasmania, both of which are accepting international arrivals (based on travel history within the last 14 days).

Eligible travellers can travel to Queensland from 22nd January 2022. (Photo: City of Gold Coast)

This allows Australians (including permanent residents) and New Zealand passport holders usually resident in Australia to fly into these cities from any overseas country, while the following citizens are also eligible, when travelling directly from their home countries:

These are the prevailing requirements of the Australian Federal Government for entry to the country, which are not state-by-state decisions.



 


 

Summary

While countries like the UK are seeing their Omicron wave as the end of the pandemic and a reason to loosen restrictions, Western Australia (a bit like like China and Hong Kong) frankly seems frightened of its own shadow when it comes to COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, Singapore travellers made up the largest group of visitors to Perth, so this news will will certainly be devastating for the thousands waiting to reconnect with family there, or simply enjoy a holiday.

Sadly, after declaring a “set in stone” date for reopening based on 90% full vaccination, ‘Westralia’ has apparently been totally spooked by what seems to be the mildest variant of the virus so far.

Let’s hope the state joins the rest of the country, and the world, sooner rather than later.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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9 comments

  1. Don’t think McGowan will open border until next summer.Instead of opening now in summer where could get this out of way in time for winter like the east coast there will be another booster mandate yet.We are the new North Korea

  2. Bitterly disappointed with cancellation of 5 February 22 for WAs International visitors. Aged 91 and 80 Australian citizens living in UK and its been 3 yrs since we were last with our Daughter and 2 Grandchildren in Mandurah. No way can we spend 2 weeks cooped up in an Australian Hotel. Both had 3 Coronavirus vaccinations and go out and about here in England freely. Not sure exactly what McGowan is hoping to achieve in isolation, the Real World is facing up to its challenges,he’s only delaying the inevitable because a
    ALL humans have to learn to live with Covid….except him!!

  3. Tells us Western Australians alot about the health system in our state. Premier and his cronies the health minister and his health chief haven’t a clue of what’s happening in the state and realise the shambles the health system is in. How do we now trust or believe in a Premier that promises and sets in stone something that is overturned weeks later.

  4. Well, it’s pretty obvious that out of all the major states in Australia, Western Australia will be one of the last states to reopen its borders both interstate and internationally, also unwilling to become ‘COVID-ified’. The situation is what it is, and we can’t do much about it. All we can do is sit tight and wait.

  5. Stupid headline, this morning I will be popping down to my local Cafe with my wife for breakfast. Then off to a party this afternoon with friends. No fear of Covid-19. Mark is far from a chicken. This writer cannot see leadership when it stares him in the face. I had the pleasure of attending an event last month, as Mark walked into the room, he was greeted with a thing that clearly shocked this humble man. 1000 people stood up and gave him a standing applause 👏. Young Andrew here, that wrote this, is a disgrace to name reporter. I personally will not be following his work. I come from a family of 6 kids. My elderly mother at 87 whome I speak to every 2nd day, tells me she is not sad cause she cannot see my self and our children. Whom she has not seen for 2.5 years, “because I take comfort knowing you are safe son. I expect this horrible disease will finish off the rest of your brothers and sisters, like it did your sister “. I expect this is also the reality of my family, I will be the last man standing. And I can put that directly down to Mark’s responsible leadership. So Andrew, quite frankly mate, you in my opinion are a silly little fool, scribbing on the monument of greatness.

    1. Jesus Christ what a load of utter crap you just spouted.

      You and your “leader” have got the COVID Dread, an irrational mental illness caused by being locked away from the real world for too long. You and the Chinese appear to have a lot more in common than you realized.

    2. What a disgraceful comment. Mark McFOOL is just delaying the inevitable. Apart from having zero credibility, he has caused WAY more harm to others who unfortunately believed in his lies, and are now suffering as a result. Look at the reports over the last few days of people now effectively homeless because of this foolish and stupid man.

      Omicron, the least dangerous of all Covid variants, is already in WA. The good news is that the variant will probably “deal with” the fool of a premier because in coming weeks as it spreads uncontrollably (as it does), it will becomes clear to even the most foolish premier in Australia that there is no point in delaying the opening of the border and the continued suffering it is causing to so many, any longer.

      History will judge Mark McGowan for what he is – an absolute fool with no credibility.

  6. Hahaha what a coward. The mental illness that is COVID Dread really seems to have infected the Australians’ “brains”. It seems they’ve got a lot more in common with the Chinese than they realized.

  7. indeed McGowan is blittering idiot! he promised to open up WA with the “set in stone” comment. 2nd jabs increased on this expectation. Now, nobody will bother to get the booster as his claims can no longer be trusted. He had two years to boost the healthcare system and did nothing but scratch his arse while the people of Westralia voted him in again. Sadly, most that voted for him don’t see that is isolation from the rest of the world will hurt them in the long run as the trust with the outside world is broken. But he probably doesn’t care about the long term and more concerned about get re-voted in for another term.

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