News Coronavirus Travellers can return to Top End as NT reopens borders

Travellers can return to Top End as NT reopens borders

victoria borders nt
The Northern Territory's borders will remain shut to some Australians for 18 months. Photo: ABC
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The NT’s borders will open to some parts of Australia on Friday for the first time since the coronavirus forced their closure nearly four months ago.

Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie says he is “calm and confident” but concerned Territorians were no longer taking physical distancing seriously.

From Friday, many domestic travellers will be able to visit the NT without having to spend 14 days in quarantine.

When the lifting of border restrictions was first announced in June, it was to apply to the whole country, but Chief Minister Michael Gunner has since declared the whole of Victoria, Sydney and the Blue Mountains coronavirus hotspots due to new outbreaks.

Any arrivals from those places, which represent more than 10 million people, will be sent to supervised quarantine for 14 days at their own expense of $2500.

The Northern Territory has avoided any community transmission or deaths of COVID-19, with 32 cases since early March and just two currently active.

“In the past I have been known to say ‘I am terrified and confident’, right now I am calm and I am confident because we do have all of the things in place,” Dr Heggie said.

That included testing capability, intensive care capability, retrieval of people, isolation of people and potential lockdowns of urban, apartment or remote communities if there were outbreaks, he said.

Those travellers that come to the Territory will have to sign statutory declarations that they have not been in a hotspot, and face heavy fines or even jail if caught lying.

Dr Heggie agreed that with the NT having had no community transmission and its restrictions lifted, people were not practising physical distancing nor taking the risks as seriously as they should.