PM joins states to drop latest COVID bans

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on states and territories to ease their latest COVID-19 restrictions, as Western Australia announced plans to reopen its hard border to the rest of the nation.

Speaking at the Sydney Institute’s annual dinner on Monday evening, Mr Morrison urged courts to “facilitate rather than dictate”.

“The Australians have kept their end of the bargain, it is time for governments to keep theirs now; to take a step back and let the Australians move forward, ”said Mr Morrison.

“Put Australians back in charge of their own lives, building on the points of connection and the relationships that exist between state and individual.”

It comes as the Prime Minister of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, announced that the state will ease its border restrictions from February 5.

Mr McGowan made the announcement after WA hit the 80% double-vaccination mark, the latest jurisdiction to reach the milestone.

While Mr McGowan had been criticized by other jurisdictions for tight border control, he said the measures meant residents of WA could lead normal lives.

“We followed a different model from the others, and it worked,” he said.

“We can safely facilitate border controls and reconnect WA. I am convinced that now is the right time and the right way to take this important step. “

The PM praised WA for hitting 80 percent and for announcing plans to remove its hard border.

“Australia is going to be connected and together again,” Mr. Morrison said.

“It will be good news for thousands of West Australians eager to reunite with family and friends after such a long separation.”

The prime minister also confirmed that a two-week hiatus to allow visa holders to enter the country without exemption will end as scheduled on December 15.

This decision will pave the way for the return of skilled migrants and international students to Australia.

Travel bubbles with Japan and South Korea can also begin.

The hiatus was instituted due to concerns over the Omicron variant, but Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Chris Moy said evidence indicated the new strain was not as serious as Delta .

“If we’re talking about a milder variant, even though it’s a little more contagious, I hope it won’t be such a threat,” he told the ABC.

“But on the other hand, if it’s really contagious and we get a real spike in cases and say half of them are severe, it can still be a threat because we’ll have a lot of people in the hospital in same time.”

Almost 23,000 vaccines were administered during the last reporting period, bringing the national full vaccination rate to 89.2%.

There were 1,290 new cases and two deaths in Victoria on Monday, while NSW recorded 536 COVID-19 infections.

The Northern Territory had 17 new cases while South Australia and ACT had 13 and three, respectively.

Queensland had a new case on Monday, as the state reopened its borders to hot spots of the virus.

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