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McGowan: Window to close on returns from ‘extreme’ NSW

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WA residents stranded in NSW, the epicentre of Australia’s third wave of COVID-19, have until Wednesday night to return home.

WA will reclassify NSW an “extreme risk” jurisdiction and ban travel from the State on compassionate grounds from 12.01am on Thursday, August 26.

Under the changes, border exemptions will be limited to Defence personnel, Commonwealth parliamentarians and State and Federal Government officials.

These arrivals will be required to do two weeks hotel quarantine at their own expense, but the number of travellers from NSW was expected to slow to a trickle.

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The changes come just days after NSW was deemed a “high risk” State, with all arrivals required to show proof of vaccination and return a negative test result.

In the past four days, more than 350 people have arrived in WA from NSW, with three flights carrying 345 passengers due to land on Friday.

Mr McGowan previously said NSW would move to the extreme category when the State’s rolling daily cases averages reaches more than 500 for at least five days.

The rolling average hit 531 cases and the Premier said he expected the figure to rise significantly, describing the situation in NSW as a “human tragedy” and a “catastrophe”.

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WA detected one new case of COVID overnight, a man in his 20s, bringing the number of active cases in hotel quarantine to four.

A mercy flight carrying 95 Afghan nationals and Australian citizens touched down at Perth Airport at 1.40am. They will spend the next 14 days in quarantine at the Hyatt Hotel.

Earlier on Friday, Greater Sydney’s lockdown was extended until the end of September after NSW recorded 644 new infections.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a raft of new restrictions, including a curfew for the worst impacted suburbs and ordering everyone across the State to wear a mask when outside their home.

The measures were finally introduced in the ninth week of lockdown and after she previously said there was no evidence they would be effective.

Since late June, Mr McGowan has repeatedly called on his NSW counterpart to copy WA’s hard lockdown approach to “crush and kill the virus”.

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