COVID-19: Travel restrictions

Government Directions about travel to and within WA

On 15 March 2020 the WA government declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. This allows it to use emergency powers to create legally enforceable directions (rules) to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The WA Government has issued a number of directions restricting travel into and within WA, including into remote Aboriginal communities. 

The WA government directions are being updated as circumstances change. The most recent updates came into operation on 5 June 2020 when the rules about travelling to remote Aboriginal communities were revised. The current WA government directions relating to travel to and within WA are:

On 18 March 2020 the Commonwealth government declared a Human Biosecurity Emergency in response to COVID-19. This allows it to use emergency powers to make legally enforceable determinations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Using these powers, the Commonwealth government imposed restrictions on travel into a designated area in WA which included remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley, parts of the East Pilbara and Goldfields-Esperance regions. However, on 5 June 2020 these restrictions were lifted.

Therefore, the only restrictions on travel within WA currently in place are the WA government restrictions relating to remote Aboriginal communities. These restrictions and the continuing restrictions on travel into WA, are summarised below.

Travelling to Western Australia

The rules about travel into WA are found in the WA government's Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions.

The borders into Western Australia are currently closed, and if you are outside Western Australia, you are not allowed to enter unless you are an “exempt traveller” and have applied for an exemption from WA police. Examples of exempt travellers are national and state security and government officials, providers of health services, FIFO workers and their families, or individuals whose entry has been approved, for example on compassionate grounds or to comply with a court order. 

However, even if you are an exempt traveller, you must not enter WA if you: 

  • have a fever of 38 degrees or above, or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), or
  • have been told by a “responsible officer” that you are a close contact of a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or
  • are awaiting a test result after having been tested for COVID-19, or
  • have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not yet received a doctor’s certificate stating that you have recovered from COVID-19.

A responsible officer is someone working for the Department of Health or a health service provider.

To find out more, or to apply for an exemption click here

Travelling within Western Australia

The only restrictions in place for travel within WA are those imposed by the WA Government in relation to Remote Aboriginal Communities. 

WA rules about travel to remote Aboriginal communities

The WA rules say that you are only allowed to enter onto the land or waters within a Remote Aboriginal Community if you fit into a special category. There are also extra rules to stop you entering if there is a risk you may be carrying COVID-19.

These rules apply to the Remote Aboriginal Communities that are listed in the Remote Aboriginal Communities Directions (No 3). The rules are summarised as follows.

You are allowed to enter a Remote Aboriginal Community if you:

  • normally live or work there, or
  • are entering for family or cultural purposes and only remain there for that purpose, or
  • are entering to provide essential, community or human services or supplies to the community and only remain for that purpose, or 
  • live there or provide essential services there and are entering to access core services and only remain for that purpose, or
  • enter in an emergency and only remain while the emergency continues, or
  • are travelling to a place beyond the community and you take the most direct route through the community, you do not need to come into contact with anyone in the community and you only remain in the community as long as necessary to make the journey through, or
  • are authorised by law to enter and remain on the land or waters, or
  • have written approval from police.

However, even if you fall into the list above, you are not allowed to enter if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19 (but see exception below), or
  • have received a notice that you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or
  • are waiting for a test result for COVID-19, or
  • have received a positive test result for COVID-19 but not received a certificate saying you have recovered, or
  • have been exposed to COVID-19 without adequate personal protective precautions in the past 14 days
  • have been in a foreign country in the past 14 days, or
  • are otherwise not allowed to enter under another law, for example if you have a restraining order that says you cannot enter a particular community.

Note, there is an exception to the rule about not entering if you have symptoms of COVID-19. You are allowed to enter when you have symptoms of COVID-19 if you are:

  • a resident of the community; and
  • left the community within the past 24 hours; and
  • had the symptoms before you left; and
  • have not had contact while outside the community with a person who has tested positive to COVID-19.

Finally, there is a rule that anyone who enters a Remote Aboriginal Community who does not live there, must take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to another person.

The maximum penalty for breaking these rules is imprisonment of 12 months or a fine of $50,000. Alternatively, police can issue you with a $1000 infringement on the spot.

Can I get permission to travel into a Remote Aboriginal Community?

If you believe you may be allowed to travel into a Remote Aboriginal Community , you should apply for approval using the G2G PASS.

More information

There is more information about travel in WA in this WA government advice:  
•    COVID-19 Travel Advice
 

Reviewed: 5 June 2020

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.