COVID-19: Travel restrictions

Government Directions about travel to and within Western Australia

On 15 March 2020 the WA government declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 which has been repeatedly extended. 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 WA from interstate and within WA. 

The current WA government Directions relating to travel to WA from interstate are changing frequently according to the risk status of different states. These Directions maintain a controlled border with all states, however, from time to time new Directions are published which impose greater restrictions on travel from certain higher risk states. The Directions that are currently in place are located on the WA government website under COVID-19 coronavirus: Travel and border: State-wide. The relevant Directions are titled 'Controlled Border for Western Australia Directions' with the associated Amendment Directions listed as No 2, No 3 etc. There are at least 6 Amended Directions to date and more may be added. Any Directions about travel from a particular state are also located here, such as the current Directions relating to travel from NSW.  

The current WA government directions relating to travel 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 continues to impose restrictions on international arrivals into Australia, as detailed on the Department of Home Affairs website.

In response to COVID-19 the Commonwealth government imposed restrictions on travel into a designated area in WA which included certain remote Aboriginal communities. These restrictions were lifted on 5 June 2020. Therefore, the only rules that currently restrict travel into remote Aboriginal communities in WA, are those put in place by the WA government.  

Travelling to Western Australia from interstate

The rules about travel into Western Australia from interstate are changing frequently in response to outbreaks of COVID-19 in other states. For some time, Western Australia had a hard border in place with entry allowed for exempt travellers only. On 14 November 2020 it relaxed this to a controlled border with particular conditions in place for certain states, depending on the level of risk. 

These frequent changes have required ongoing amendments to the interstate travel rules issued by the WA government through its emergency Directions. Please visit the WA government website for full information about the current interstate travel rules which is information that summarises the current position according to the relevant Directions.

While some of the rules are constantly changing, as the border is controlled, it remains the case that even if you are eligible to enter WA from interstate you must apply for a G2G Pass from WA Police and comply with any conditions of entry, such as a requirement to quarantine for 14 days. 

It also remains the case that even if you have a G2G Pass, you are not permitted to enter WA if you: 

  • have a fever of 37.5 degrees or above, or a recent history of fever, or symptoms of acute respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), or loss of smell or taste, 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 evidence from a doctor or 'responsible officer' certifying that you have recovered from COVID-19.

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

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

Travelling to remote Aboriginal communities 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. These 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.

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

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

More information

There is more information about travel to and within WA on this WA government web page:  
•    WA government COVID-19 coronavirus: Travel and quarantine
 

Reviewed: 24 December 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.