High-risk travellers returning to Western Australia could be fitted with ankle bracelets under a drastic move to stop them escaping from hotel quarantine.
Premier Mark McGowan flagged the intrusive plan on Wednesday that would involve travellers identified as a potential flight risk or with a criminal history being forced to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet during their hotel quarantine stay.
But the Premier admitted it would be rare.
“It’s pretty unusual stuff, but in extreme cases that’s what needs to happen,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“If we think there’s a risk someone will force their way out or do the wrong thing. Well, then an ankle bracelet, I think, is a sensible precaution.”
It comes as two women, aged 19 and 22, were hauled before Perth Magistrates Court this week accused of escaping from hotel quarantine to attend a party after flying in from interstate without permission.
Mr McGowan said there had been a “handful” of hotel quarantine incidents but made no apologies for his state’s tough border restrictions.
“If someone is identified as a risk we have the legal power now to put an ankle bracelet on them, and that’s what the police will look to do,” he said.
“We’ve had no community spread now for 131 days, and the borders have been a large part of achieving that outcome.
“We’ve done the right thing by the health of our citizens, and what it has allowed us to do is get our economy up in Western Australia far more than any other state.”
The Premier said high-risk quarantine guests might also be accommodated at the one hotel with “beefed up” security.
Mr McGowan wrote to the federal government on Wednesday to ask for 140 Australian Defence Force personnel to help manage the coronavirus pandemic, including maintaining security at Perth’s quarantine hotels.
About 11,000 people have been required to undertake hotel quarantine in Perth in the past six months, monitored by 240 security staff.
Mr McGowan said there were still thousands of Australians yet to come home from overseas, and he expected hotel quarantine to continue for a “long period of time”.
Western Australia has enforced some of the toughest border closures throughout the pandemic with most people entering the state required to complete 14 days of quarantine at their own expense.
Anyone who has been in Victoria or NSW in the past 14 days is not allowed to enter unless they are an exempt traveller.