A heartbroken wife who was supposed to be reunited with her husband is devastated as she has no idea when she will see him again due to the border backflip made by WA Premier Mark McGowan.
Mr McGowan revealed the hard border is set to remain on February 5 as it would be “reckless and irresponsible” to reopen as planned due to the Omicron variant wreaking havoc “over east”.
The call has shocked thousands of Australians who were counting down the days until they were reunited with family.
Thousands of families have been crushed by the decision, including Tasmanian woman Heike Langer-Jones who is heartbroken by the move.
Her husband is a FIFO worker stranded in WA away from his wife and their 15-year-old daughter and fears leaving the State could mean losing his job.
“I don’t know what has happened to our Australian way of life where I’m sitting on my phone at night waiting for a press conference to let me know when I will see my husband again,” Ms Langer-Jones told The Today Show.
Ms Langer-Jones choked back tears as she said she was in “absolute disbelief and shock” when she heard the news.
The premier has not revealed which date the border will open, leaving the family wanting answers.
“I’m drained, I’m stressed, it is just heartbreaking that this is happening,” she said.
“We have done everything asked of us, we are vaccinated and follow protocols and it’s still not good enough.
“I just don’t understand how that can even be possible. You can’t make a decision and then retract from that decision. It’s mind blowing.”
Mr McGowan said he made the decision on the basis that just 25 per cent of WA had received their booster vaccine, and wanted to avoid rising fatalities as is being seen in NSW and Victoria.
“NSW is sadly recording 25 COVID deaths a day,” Mr McGowan said.
“Let’s just take a deep breath, acknowledge that it’s very difficult over there, and we’ve got to do our best to avoid that occurring here.”
The move has sparked backlash from thousands of others, as well as from Perth-based Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Omar Khorshid.
Dr Khorshid took to Twitter where he dubbed Mr McGowan a “one trick pony”.
However, while he said thousands are shocked and disappointed, there is also a sense of relief.
“No doubt public hospitals and general practice in WA do NOT feel ready for Omicron but also little confidence that anything will change in coming weeks and months,” he said in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“Was hoping for more courage from a Premier with an unprecedented parliamentary majority. This decision should be acknowledged as a failure by the WA govt to prepare and a broken promise.”
While there is no set date for when the border will reopen, Mr McGowan has said travel exemption rules would be relaxed from February 5.
The move has been slammed by thousands of others who haven’t seen their families in years, but some in other states have defended the move.
Feminist writer Clementine Ford, who announced her son tested positive to COVID-19 on Thursday in Victoria, supported Mr McGowan on Instagram.
“Are the people outraged at this not paying attention to what’s happening in the hospitals in every other state?” she wrote.
“I understand how frustrating it must be to not see your family, but why are so many people so eager to throw healthcare workers into a punishing situation?”
Ford said the decision was not made “based on nothing”, which is “hard to understand” given the approach by the federal government and “Domicron over in NSW”.
“Some elected leaders want to minimise the risk of people dying or entire healthcare systems collapsing,” she said.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Labor Party President Wayne Swan also supported the move.
He said the delay in arrivals was an “entirely sensible decision”.
“Mark McGowan has a choice the we didn’t have on the east coast when New South Wales decided to let it rip and rip it has,” he said.
“What that has shown is how unprepared we have been … rapid antigen tests not being available, contact tracing falling apart, the virus spreading everywhere, the deaths rising.
“I think Mark McGowan has made a sensible choice, a hard one, which will be difficult for some people, but if you look at the east coast at the moment there‘s a de facto lockdown in operation anyway.”
Federal government front bencher Peter Dutton said many families shattered by the news as they were anticipating seeing their families for “a long period of time”.
“Their voices I think will be heard today, and Mr McGowan will have to explain to them the reasons for his decision, and I understand that great sense of disappointment,” he told Sunrise.
“You can see the disappointment when you hear the West Australians speak and they’re asking what next? How do they get through this? The most important thing is to see WA through to the other side.”