Western Australia now has a date for it’s re-opening and the State’s Premier is urging Aboriginal people to get vaccinated before widespread community transmission of COVID-19 occurs.

WA Premier Mark McGowan today announced the current restrictions on entry into the state will be relaxed as of 12.01am on Saturday, February 5, and outlined what measures will come into effect.

A ‘hard’ state border arrangement has been in place since the start of the pandemic, restricting movements in and out of the state and requiring 14 days of quarantine at different times for those coming from different states.

During this period there has been minimal community transmission of the virus in WA.

The state’s double dose vaccination rate today reached 80 per cent and is anticipated to reach 90 per cent in February.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said there had been “huge progress lately” to the vaccination rates within Aboriginal communities.

He said the Aboriginal community is now at 57 per cent first dose and about 40 per cent double dose vaccinated which represents an “encouraging increase” in recent weeks.

“We need to make every day count for our Aboriginal population,” Mr Cook said.

Details provided by the WA Premier via social media, state entry will continue to be restricted into some remote Aboriginal communities after the state’s border restrictions are relaxed but details have not yet been provided about which communities this will affect.

Remote Aboriginal Communities were closed to certain visitors in early 2020 when COVID-19 arrived in Australia as a measure to protect these communities.

Mr McGowan said unless vaccination rates improve in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields,  and people in these areas who have not been vaccinated will face additional measures which will bar them from entering pubs, bottle shops, restaurants and a number of other venues and mask wearing requirements will be introduced.

“We are most concerned about the Pilbara,” Mr McGowan said.

The overall double dose vaccination rate in the Pilbara is just 46.1 per cent, in the Goldfields it is 65 per cent and the Kimberley 60.8 per cent.

Unless an 80 per cent vaccination rate is reached in these regions, air travel into them would also be restricted to people who are double dose vaccinated.

By Aleisha Orr