The Northern Territory’s twin lockdowns are about to end, after Chief Minister Michael Gunner confirmed no more COVID infections in Darwin, and none at all in Alice Springs.
“We are confident, but we are not complacent,” he said, announcing an end to both lockdowns from 1pm on Friday (CST).
Darwin’s lockdown will end on schedule, but the stay-at-home orders in Alice Springs had been expected to run for a further 24 hours.
“Based on our conversations with the health experts in South Australia, we now have a very high degree of confidence that the man who spent seven hours in Alice Springs airport had low or no infectivity during that period,” he said.
“That advice, coupled with the testing and tracing, we have done gives the comfort we need to bring forward the end of the Alice Springs lockdown to today.”
Darwin and its surrounding areas were locked down on Sunday after a worker at Newmont’s Granites Mine, in the Tanami Desert, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The planned end of the stay-at-home order was thrown into doubt late on Thursday when authorities learned another infected mine worker had breached an order to isolate.
The man in his 50s was moved to the National Centre for Resilience at Howard Springs, near Darwin, on Sunday after reporting he had spent 36 hours in the community.
But he allegedly lied to health workers about his movements after he was ordered to stay home and wait to be moved to Howard Springs.
Mr Gunner was furious at the revelations, but more upbeat on Friday.
“I know it’s been a bit of a wild ride but we are really happy with what’s come through overnight, especially the rapid testing from the Stuart Park site and we can now transition out of the lockdown,” he said.
Alice Springs went into a 72-hour lockdown on Wednesday after it was revealed a miner from the COVID-hit Granites Mine near the town had spent seven hours at the airport waiting for a flight back to South Australia. That man’s family – his wife and four children – have all since tested positive to the virus.
There will be extensive coronavirus rules for Alice Springs and the Top End until at least July 9.
They include wearing masks when social distancing is impossible and on public transport.
“If you’re going to the supermarket or into a shop, chuck on your mask. If you visit the hairdresser’s or beauty therapist, keep your mask on. Heading out to dinner or a drink, wear a mask but remove it while you
are seated,” Mr Gunner said.
“If you’re queuing for a coffee, takeaway, with people around you, wear your mask. At work, you don’t have to wear a mask where you can stay away from others like in some offices or working outdoors.”
Gyms and markets will remain closed for another week, while restaurants and cafes will be restricted to sit-down service. Sport such as golf, cricket and tennis – which can allow for physical distancing – can resume, while others have to wait another week.
Gatherings in private homes will be limited to no more than 10.
NT residents are also required to boost their use of the territory’s COVID check-in app.