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Western Australia premier Mark McGowan says he's "very confident" a deal can be worked out to play the fifth Ashes Test in Perth despite revealing the state won't throw open its borders until late January or early February.
McGowan unveiled an outline of his road map on Friday, saying WA will reopen to domestic and interstate travellers once the State reaches a 90% double vaccination rate.
An exact date of the reopening will be decided once WA achieves an 80% double vaccination rate for people aged 12 and above, which is expected by mid-December. McGowan said people should expect the borders to reopen in late January or early February.
The fifth Ashes Test at Optus Stadium is scheduled to start on January 14 - just five days after the fourth Test in Sydney. Over the past two years, visiting teams from Covid-affected states have been forced to serve seven-day quarantine periods before being allowed to play a game.
Given England and Australia will be flying into WA from Covid-affected NSW, there are grave fears about whether the fifth Ashes Test will be able to be staged in Perth. But McGowan is optimistic that a deal can be worked out.
"We've conducted sport for the last two years...all of those things have happened over the course of the last two years subject to rules and bubbles," McGowan said. "That's something that will be worked on jointly and I'm very confident there'll be a good outcome reached.
"We held the AFL grand final - the best one I think in history - in Western Australia because we were kept safe, and we did it with good Covid rules. I'm sure we'll be able to hold further sporting events."
Adding further complication to the issue is England's reluctance to lose their freedoms on tour. McGowan was evasive when asked whether he would be relaxing quarantine requirements for visiting teams, but did say that the measures used in the past have been proven to work.
"As I've said repeatedly sport is not my No.1 priority. But if we can do it safely, we will," he said.
CA confirmed on Friday that the planned Test match against Afghanistan, which was set to be played in Hobart on November 27, had been postponed until the situation in Afghanistan became "clearer". Hobart could host the fifth Ashes Test if the match is taken off Perth.