The Chief Minister of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) Michael Gunner announced that the region’s domestic borders will not be fully opened for at least another 18 months.
Gunner on Tuesday said his government will recruit more police to enforce the NT’s coronavirus border closures, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the list of states and territories the NT’s borders are closed to was more likely to grow than shrink, saying that 18 months was a “conservative” estimate for when the borders would be wide open again.
Under current restrictions all travellers from Victoria and Sydney – where there is ongoing community transmission of COVID-19 – must complete two weeks of hotel quarantine at their own expense on arrival in the NT.
“We have got an indefinite ban on Victoria, and Sydney keeps bubbling away to a point that I can’t give you a date where that would ever lift,” Gunner told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.
“My advice to every Territorian, if you can, stay here in the Territory. You’re safe here, don’t go.”
“If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans, stay here in the Northern Territory.”
The NT has had only 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – by far the fewest of Australia’s eight states and territories – and zero deaths.
Gunner said that the decision to keep the NT’s borders closed was made to protect the region’s vulnerable indigenous population.
“Territorians first. This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” he said.