‘Don’t come here’: 11m people told to stay away from NT
MORE than 11 million Australians have been effectively locked out of the Northern Territory despite the reopening of borders at 12.01am tomorrow, unless they are willing to spend $2500 on a two week stay at a disused workers camp.
The 31 local government areas of greater metropolitan Sydney have been declared coronavirus hotspots by NT authorities, thus barring anyone who has been in those places in the past 14 days from coming to the Territory without going into 14 day mandatory quarantine at Darwin's Howard Springs or Alice Springs' Ross facility at their own expense.
Restrictions on NSW came as the number of cases linked to Sydney's Crossroads Hotel coronavirus cluster grew to 34.
Health authorities have confirmed that cluster is likely linked to a Melbourne man.
Anyone from a hotspot who has arrived in the NT before borders open at 12.01am tomorrow must stay in self-isolation for the full 14 days.
Greater metropolitan Sydney's 4.85 million residents and Victoria's 6.28 million people are affected by the NT's current hotspot rules, with Chief Minister Michael Gunner warning there will be more to come if needed.
"I must be frank here, giving two days notice of a decision is not a luxury that will be afforded in the future," he said.
"In the future, we will declare a hotspot as soon as we need to, and you could be left stranded if you're not in the Territory."
Territorians are advised not to leave the jurisdiction unless they have to.
The new hotspot declarations will be in place indefinitely but unlike Victoria, those in NSW will be reviewed in two weeks.
"This situation in Sydney has the potential to get worse before it gets better, and we need to assume that it will get worse," Mr Gunner said.
"To open our borders to Sydney right now, when we don't know the full extent of this cluster, would be a roll of the dice."
The new hotspot declarations came with details about how coronavirus safety would be bolstered for Territorians, including the possible introduction of harsher penalties for idiots that breach the Chief Health Officer's orders and stationing cops at border entry points, including airports, until further notice.
Exemptions for interstate freight and logistics workers will also be limited and stricter protocols put in place. Those workers will also be subject to targeted coronavirus testing.
Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie said critical freight, like medical supplies and groceries, would continue to be allowed in to ensure the NT was stocked but other non-essential freight, like a new gear box for a car, could be delayed.
Mr Gunner said it was not a matter of if coronavirus returned to the NT but when.
Following revelations from Victoria that people had been fined for breaching COVID-19 rules through refusing to leave KFC restaurants, playing Pokémon Go and poker in groups, and hiding in garages and closets, Dr Heggie warned Territorians needed to act responsibly to keep coronavirus at bay.
"Of course, some people don't seem to think that the financial penalty is worrisome for them," he said.
"I would ask them, if their behaviour contributed to a single death in the Territory, how would the Territory feel about that behaviour.
"The virus does not follow any rules … this has to be a partnership with the community."
There were 251 new cases of COVID-19 nationwide yesterday, including 238 in Victoria.
Originally published as 'Don't come here': 11 million people told to stay away from NT