Darwin, Palmerston and the Katherine region in the Northern Territory will go into a snap lockdown from midday Monday after confirmation of a new local COVID case in the community.
The development comes as the ACT confirmed another 19 local cases on Monday and its lockdown was extended by a fortnight.
In other developments, Victorian government authorities are reportedly considering a recommendation to re-introduce a curfew to get on top of Melbourne’s Delta outbreak.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the strict stay-at-home orders would last for at least 72 hours.
They come after an international traveller tested positive to COVID after leaving quarantine in Sydney and flying to Darwin, via Canberra.
The man, who is in his 30s, wore a mask while travelling and stayed at a Darwin hotel last Thursday night before travelling to Katherine for work.
He was tested for COVID on Sunday, but went to meet a friend and to the Woolworths in Katherine while waiting for his result.
Exposure sites are expected to be added to the NT health website, while it is not yet known which variant the man has and how many people he came into contact with.
“We have made the decision to lock down fast because of what we do not know”, Mr Gunner said.
“There is a very real risk that this virus has been transmitted to others.”
He said the lockdown order would allow the territory to “buy time” and to lessen the risk of the virus getting into high-risk Indigenous communities in the top end.
“When we don’t know everything we have to start by assuming the worst,” Mr Gunner said.
There will be the usual five reason to leave home, those are:
- Medical treatment
- Essential goods and services
- Essential work that can’t be done at home
- One hour of exercise, no further than 5 kilometres from home
- To provide care – including shared care of children
In addition, any goods outside groceries, food and medicine will be able to be bought only through click and collect services to limit unnecessary movement and interaction.
Mr Gunner said there was no need to stock up on essential goods.
“Panic buying is stupid, a waste of your time,” he said.
Everyone in lockdown areas must wear a mask when leaving home, including exercise, with Mr Gunner discouraging anyone from intense workouts that cannot be done while wearing a mask.
“Take a walk instead – wear a mask,” he said.
Schools and child care will be closed and will only be available to children of essential workers.
“For now, it’s three days off for our kids,” Mr Gunner said.
Curfew on cards for Victoria
There are widespread reports Victorian public health officials have recommended a curfew be imposed in Melbourne after the state posted 22 new local COVID-19 cases on Monday.
It is understood state government ministers are considering the recommendation amid concerns about compliance with lockdown restrictions.
No decision has been yet been made on any curfew, with the Victorian government yet to confirm a time for its daily virus update on Monday.
A curfew was a controversial measure used at the height of the state’s second wave of the virus in 2020.
It comes amid growing concern Melbourne’s lockdown is not working quickly enough to reduce COVID case numbers. State health authorities confirmed 17 of Monday’s new cases were linked to known outbreaks, while others were mystery infections.
Fourteen cases were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period – with Melbourne 10 days into a lockdown.
Some 29,986 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Monday morning, while 19,880 Victorian received a vaccine dose at a state-run hub.
Elsewhere, Victorian police are investigating an engagement party allegedly held in breach of lockdown restrictions.
A mother and son from St Kilda East, the heart of the city’s Jewish community, tested positive for COVID-19 at the weekend, despite having no known links to other cases.
It is believed one of them attended an engagement party, allegedly held in breach of lockdown restrictions earlier in the week.
It is understood that at least two medical professionals attended the event, while another guest works as a prison chaplain, though they haven’t conducted a visit since February.
A state government spokeswoman said the potential breach has been referred to Victoria Police, who are investigating.
ACT lockdown extended
The ACT government has extended the territory’s COVID lockdown after confirming 19 more local cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
They take the total number of active cases in Canberra to 28.
One of the latest cases in a student at Lyneham High School, who was in class for four days while infectious.
Another is an aged-care worker who had received one dose of a vaccine and was unwittingly infectious for three shifts at work.
Canberra’s lockdown was set to end on Thursday but will now run until at least September 2.
There were more than 5000 tests conducted in the ACT in the past 24 hours.