The Northern Territory border will remain closed for at least another 18 months from Tuesday, with the closure remaining indefinite for Victoria.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the ban on people from Victoria and Greater Sydney could remain for more than a year – with extra police and health officials to be recruited to beef up land and airport border measures.
“We will have hard border controls in place for at least the next 18 months,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.
The tough-on-borders pledge comes amid a tight Top End election, with voting already underway.
Mr Gunner has been accused of politicising the COVID-19 crisis to retain government for Territory Labor. But he pushed back on that on Tuesday.
“This is the biggest issue in the world. It’s the biggest issue confronting our country. It’s the biggest issue gripping the Northern Territory,” he said.
“We’re in the middle of a declared public health emergency.”
He described the 18-month timeline as “conservative”, and said the Territory was much more likely to add places to its banned list than ease restrictions.
“There’s no community transmission in Western Australia, there’s no public health risk there – you’re currently welcome to the Northern Territory. But if there is a hot spot there, we will declare it and close you out,” he said.
The NT election is on August 22.