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Featured Image Credit: Mark McGowan/Instagram
The West Australian Premier has broken hearts all around the country after revealing the state's reopening plan is being delayed.
After being closed off to Australia and the rest of the world for nearly two years, everyone was looking forward to February 5 to see loved ones or have a holiday.
However, those hopes were scuppered last night when Premier Mark McGowan revealed they have shelved that plan due to the threat of Omicron.
"It would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now. I can't do it," he said in a late night news conference.
"NSW is sadly recording 25 Covid deaths a day. 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."
He said the lack of availability of booster shots is also a concern, with only 25 per cent of the state having received a third jab of the coronavirus vaccine.
The February 5 date was based off modelling for the Delta variant, however the Omicron strain is much more transmissible.
Premier McGowan said they will be easing the rules ever so slightly.
"So from 12:01am on Saturday, February 5, the hard border will stay, with new settings that will have a focus on both safety and compassion," he said.
Western Australia will expand the criteria for people allowed to come into the state while still having to test and quarantine.
That criteria includes people who are returning WA residents with direct and 'legitimate' family connections in the state, as well as those returning on compassionate grounds including for funerals, palliative care or terminally ill visitation.
People who are seeking urgent and essential medical treatment are also included in the new scheme, as are people with specialist skills not available in WA.
There will also be an 'extraordinary causes' exemption for people.
"As the Prime Minister has said, Omicron has changed everything and right now we don't know the full picture of what Omicron could mean," Premier McGowan said.
"There is insufficient data to make meaningful assumptions of what it would look like once Omicron takes full effect and case numbers peak over east, except that we know, because of case numbers, it is a very bad situation."
However, the sentiment on social media is clearly against the state government's decision.
News Corp reports there were around 6,000 people who were planning to travel to WA on February 5 after nearly two years of waiting.
They'll now be forced change their plans if they don't fall under the new criteria or can't afford to quarantine during a short trip home.