Northern Territory introduces strict new coronavirus border controls to halt COVID-19 spread – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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March 21, 2020 19:14:37

The Northern Territory will introduce strict border controls from 4:00pm on March 24 that mean anyone arriving from interstate or overseas will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Key Points:

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the new restrictions today.

“I’ve seen what’s happening overseas, I’ve seen what’s happening down south and I’m not going to let that happen here,” he said.

“The Territory comes first.”

Mr Gunner said there would be exemptions to the self-isolation requirement, including health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight — with strict guidelines in place to monitor and manage the new laws.

“Arrivals will have to show they meet the essential arrival criteria to be granted an exemption,” he said.

“There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds.

“We will be consulting with essential resources industries to make sure their workforce requirements can be met, while guaranteeing community safety for this period.”

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‘We ask for cooperation’

Mr Gunner also said the move would not impact on the delivery of essential goods and services.

“Food and freight will continue. Our supermarkets and stores will be stocked,” he said.

More information would be provided in the coming days about exemptions, the process for applying, as well the processes that will be implemented at our borders.

NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker urged tourists heading to the NT to revaluate their plans.

“We ask for cooperation — if you have no necessity to be in the Territory, please reconsider your plans,” he said.

Commissioner Chalker said NT Police and the Territory Government were likely to keep the tough measures in place until September.

“We are working towards this being in place for at least six months,” he said.

He said officers would likely be placed on the major roads into the NT — including the Victoria Highway, Stuart Highway and the Barkly Highway — as of 4:00pm Tuesday.

NT Police would be monitoring who was entering the Territory through other means as well and those caught not complying with the new regulations could face a fine of up to $62,800.

How will it work?

Mr Gunner said anyone arriving in the Northern Territory would have to declare at the point of entry that they would isolate for 14 days and let the authorities know where they would be for this period.

“We will have police checkpoints at the border to enforce this requirement,” he said.

“We will also have signs on our major roads leading into the Territory so arrivals know exactly what will be required if they enter the Territory.

“And if you can’t meet those requirements, then turn around and go home.”

Mr Gunner said it was an “unprecedented” action for the NT, but the health of Territorians came first.

“As of Tuesday, I am saying to the rest of the country: ‘Sorry, but if you’re also not willing to do whatever it takes, then sorry we are shut’,” he said.

“Right now, the Territory is probably the safest place in Australia and we intend to keep in that way.”

Mr Gunner said some people could be denied entry to the Northern Territory, if they indicated they would not comply with the new measures.

What about in remote communities?

All non-essential travel to the Northern Territory’s 76 remote communities is currently banned and a 14-day isolation period applies for community residents wanting to return home from regional centres.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced the Biosecurity Act would be used to restrict people who are not involved in essential services from entering or leaving certain areas in states and territories.

Mr Gunner urged residents living in remote NT communities to return to their home country, as about 500 remote residents already have.

“If you leave a remote community then you need to go through that 14 day isolation period [before returning],” he said.

“We’ve probably got some of the most vulnerable people in Australia to coronavirus right now in the Northern Territory.

“We’ve got to do what we can to protect them and keep them safe.”

How do I get tested in the NT?

This content was originally published here.

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