Emotional family reunions are expected when WA’s border rules relax on Saturday, but some people remain disappointed they will not be able to see their loved ones for Christmas.
About 4000 more people are expected to arrive in WA every week as the state moves to a “controlled border”, allowing travellers from every jurisdiction except Victoria and NSW to enter without quarantining, but they must register on the G2G PASS app.
Travellers from NSW and Victoria must self-quarantine for two weeks and be tested for coronavirus on day 11.
Claire Reinecke has been living in Victoria for two years but never misses Christmas with her WA family.
“My little sister passed away some time ago and ever since then I’ve been intent on never missing a Christmas with my parents and family in Perth,” she told NCA NewsWire.
Ms Reinecke said she was in the fortunate position to be able to work remotely during her required 14-day quarantine period in WA.
But her husband, who is a personal trainer, is not yet ready to commit to more time in quarantine following Victoria’s lengthy lockdown.
“He can’t bear the thought of going into another lockdown because it’s been a pretty tough experience,” she said.
“For him, life is just starting to get back to normal in Melbourne.”
Ms Reinecke said her husband would wait until closer to Christmas to see whether WA’s border rules relaxed further for Victorian travellers.
“I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that WA will remove quarantine for Victoria and NSW so my husband Toby, and sister Deb and her family, can be with us over Christmas,” she said.
WA Premier Mark McGowan says Victoria and NSW will need to reach 28 days of no community spread before consideration can be given to easing the rules for those states.
Teresa Ingrilli moved to Melbourne almost 10 years ago, but usually returns to Perth multiple times every year and never misses Christmas — until now.
“This is the longest period of time I’ve ever been away from my big, Italian family,” she told NCA NewsWire.
Ms Ingrilli said when WA initially shut its border she and her family were distressed.
“I understood why the border was shut and I made the decision to remain in Melbourne,” she said.
“To help me cope with the separation anxiety, I set low expectations of seeing them in 2020.
“When it was announced that the borders wouldn’t (likely) open until mid-2021, I decided that I would not return home for Christmas, and even if borders rules relaxed, I did not want to risk catching COVID-19 after being super-cautious in lockdown for almost eight months.”
Another factor for Ms Ingrilli is that parts of her university degree are continuing into December due to the restrictions through Victoria’s stage four lockdown.
“I also think it will be expensive (to return to WA) and I’d rather not have to quarantine,” she said.
Ms Ingrilli is hoping to go back to Perth in the New Year when flights may be cheaper and she may not need to quarantine.
In the meantime, she is continuing to keep in touch with loved ones via video calls and messaging — and even her 87-year-old Nonna has learnt how to use Facetime.
“I often call my mum while I’m walking around the neighbourhood — with my mask on — so she can experience my outside time with me and we have cuppas together,” she said.
Ms Ingrilli is a singer and has been performing classical music from her balcony with her housemate every Sunday since April, including video streaming it for their interstate families.
“The singing has been instrumental in making the distance disappear,” she said.
Despite the difficulties of distance from her family, Ms Ingrilli said she backed Mr McGowan’s border rules.
“Overall, I think the Premier has done really well with the border rules – after all, WA’s biggest advantage is its distance and isolation,” she said.
“Although, there were moments where I wondered how I’d get to Perth if an emergency ever arose.
“I really felt for those people who lost family members and were unable to be there with them.”
Perth woman Alessia Pintabona moved to Melbourne early this year before COVID-19 really hit.
When WA’s border closure was announced, her housemate returned to Perth but Ms Pintabona decided to stay in their home alone.
“I only saw two people over two-and-a-half months,” she told NCA NewsWire.
Ms Pintabona keeps in touch with her family, including her young siblings, via video calls and says she is not keen to spend time in quarantine.
“After the second lockdown in Victoria, the idea of a second quarantine in Perth is a bit much,” she said.
The young singer said she would “eventually” come back to WA, but “would rather everyone in Perth is safe”.
She also said she wanted to see more of Melbourne, given most of her time in Victoria had been in lockdown.
Ms Pintabona has also thrown her support behind WA’s border policy.
“It’s obviously saved a lot of lives and allowed people to get back to a sense of normality, which we have not had over here in Melbourne,” she said.
“Having had a second wave experience here in Melbourne, I felt like people here took it harder the second time, so I do think a second time would be hard in Perth if it went around again.”
WA has not had any community transmission of COVID-19 in seven months, but the state government has warned the hard border will be reinstated if there is an outbreak.
The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nurses Federation claim WA is not prepared for an outbreak, saying the health system cannot cope.
Mr McGowan says the commentary is scaremongering.