The Northern Territory is planning to maintain border controls for at least the next year-and-a-half, according to the territory’s Chief Minister.
Speaking to the ABC’s News Breakfast this morning, Michael Gunner said the NT is “much more likely” to add further COVID-19 hotspots – banning more Australians from travelling to the territory – than to remove them.
“[W]e’ve got an indefinite ban on Victoria and Sydney keeps bubbling away to the point where I can’t give you a date where that will ever lift,” he said.
Hard border controls will be in place for the Northern Territory for "at least" the next 18 months, says Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
"Territorians first," he said. pic.twitter.com/G1UpZPULgZ
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) August 10, 2020
Gunner, who has been campaigning on his government’s handling of coronavirus ahead of an election on 22 August, told the program the NT was planning to maintain border controls for “at least” 18 months.
“My advice to every Territorian is, if you can, stay in the territory. You’re safe here, don’t go,” he said.
“If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans and stay here in the Northern Territory.
“We’re working towards at least an 18-month window from today towards the end of next year if how we are resourcing our borders.”
The Chief Minister’s comments come after the NT opened its borders to most of Australia on 17 July; however, the territory requires anyone entering from a coronavirus hotspot to undergo two weeks of supervised quarantine, at their own expense of $2,500.
Gunner’s comments came as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed NSW has recorded 22 new coronavirus infections, its highest daily number in almost four months.
He said Victoria’s hotspot status would remain indefinitely.
“I’ve got no idea when Victoria will ever get it under control,” he told News Breakfast.
Police and environmental health workers are stationed at airports and NT border crossings, with new arrivals required to fill in a form as they enter.
Anyone caught lying on these forms can face up to three years in jail, Gunner warned.
“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,” the Chief Minister told News Breakfast.
“If you’re as safe as us, you’re welcome here, if not – sorry, but we’re closed to you.”
Featured image source: iStock/swissmediavision