COVID-19 readiness needs ramping up ahead of re-opening date

The Opposition has called for the Labor Government to ramp up the State’s COVID-19 readiness ahead of February 5 and make it clear to all West Australians what the rules and restrictions will be as the State opens up.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the Premier should immediately release any modelling the Government has on the impact Omicron will have on WA when the borders come down in less than three weeks.
“This Government dragged its feet releasing the modelling used to set the Transition Plan and date for reopening and now they’re doing it again,” Ms Davies said.
“The modelling and any changes to the Transition Plan need to be released immediately so West Australians can prepare.
“Having had two years COVID-free and the luxury of time to prepare, it is ridiculous that we’re three weeks out from the date set by the Government and there’s still confusion and haziness about how rules and restrictions will be applied, and questions as to whether our health system is ready.
“In regional WA, these concerns are compounded due to serious staff shortages and lower vaccination rates.
“An in-depth community campaign devoted to detailing the rules after February 5, including the Government’s definition of a close contact, needs to be launched as soon as possible.
“West Australians deserve to know what to expect when the border comes down, with enough time for them to adequately prepare their homes, businesses and local communities.”
Ms Davies also said requests from the Opposition for a briefing from the Chief Health Officer had not been forthcoming.
“My office has requested a briefing in advance of the opening date and it’s disappointing this has not been provided – under the previous Health Minister these requests were accommodated.”
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said it was astounding that less than three weeks out from the border re-opening, healthcare workers and businesses were still in the dark.
“A number of sectors have raised serious concerns about the lack of guidance or protocols to allow them to safely transition to working with COVID-19 in the community, including basic questions like what is a close contact and will RATs be allowed to screen workers,” Ms Mettam said.
“The lack of urgency in providing this critical information defies belief given this Government has had two years to prepare for this day.”
Ms Mettam said there were also serious concerns about the number of available frontline healthcare workers, given many doctors and other healthcare professionals have been denied entry into WA until after February 5.
“At a time when we really need all hands on deck in preparation for the inevitable spread of this virus, it is absolutely ludicrous that these crucial workers are having their G2G passes denied,” Ms Mettam said.
“One senior clinician has had his pass denied twice, despite having lived in WA for two years and providing supporting documentation from the Department of Health about how essential it is for him to return to fill critical service gaps.
“The McGowan Government has had two years to recruit the workers our health system requires, and it is shocking that this has still not been prioritised.”