The Northern Territory government has hardened its border to people coming from a growing list of declared hotspots.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced that as of midnight on Sunday, the government was banning all non-approved travel to the Territory for anyone from a declared hotspot area.
Approved travel includes people returning home or re-locating to the territory and those coming for approved work purposes.
Mr Gunner said there were too many people “taking the Territory for a ride”.
“We are not going to carry the can any longer, covering the cost of quarantine for people while other states then get the benefits,” he told journalists on Sunday.
“The jig is up.”
Straight into quarantine
The online border arrival form has been updated to request that people coming from a hotspot show that they have an approved exemption before they are allowed into the NT.
“Let me be really clear: getting that approval means you are cleared to arrive here and go into quarantine,” Mr Gunner said.
“You still must quarantine in Howard Springs or Alice Springs if you are approved to come here from a hot spot.”
There were about 2000 domestic travellers and repatriated Australians quarantining in Howard Springs each day, but as of Sunday morning there were almost 800 additional people who had arrived from domestic hot spots and less than a quarter of them were residents returning home.
The centre had become a “victim of its own success” and was being used as a quarantine facility by people who had no intention of staying or spending money in the Territory, Mr Gunner said.
He declared Cairns and Yarrabah in Far North Queensland hot spots, effective from midday on Sunday.
Anyone in the NT who had been to those two areas – soon to be in a three-day lockdown – since July 29 needs to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.