Australian region's borders will stay closed to Victoria 'indefinitely'

Louise Cheer
·News Editor
·5-min read

The Northern Territory will keep its borders closed to Victoria ‘indefinitely’ as the state battles rising cases of coronavirus.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner confirmed borders would continue to be closed to the rest of Australia until July 17.

But he said the Top End would “stay closed to all of Victoria, until further notice”.

“They are shut indefinitely,” Mr Gunner said.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says his region's borders would be closed to Victoria 'indefinitely'.
Michael Gunner announced Northern Territory's borders would remain closed to Victoria 'indefinitely'. Source: Michael Gunner/Facebook

He gave three reasons for his decision: the escalating cases in Melbourne, the extending community transmission and the “unacceptable” risk of spread to regional areas.

“Melbourne is out of control. That makes it harder for the rest of Victoria to stay in control,” Mr Gunner said.

“And that is not a risk that we in the Territory are prepared to take.”

Mr Gunner said the source of more than 150 of Victoria’s highest daily total of 191 coronavirus cases on Tuesday was still under investigation.

“They do not know where it is coming from,” he said.

“Although the outbreaks are in certain suburbs in Melbourne, they are spreading across the metropolitan area, making them more difficult to contain.”

Addressing the Victorian communities outside of Melbourne who felt “targeted” by this restriction, Mr Gunner said he was not confident the outbreaks could be contained in these areas.

“To the rest of Victoria, I am sorry, you haven’t done anything wrong, but it is my job to put the Territory first,” he said.

“That means the Territory stays shut to Victoria until they get back into control.”

Gunner sees NSW as a coronavirus concern

Mr Gunner also flagged another state he was worried about as fears of a second wave in Australia continued to escalate.

“Next on my list of concerns is NSW because of their porous border and the fact it has only just closed [to Victoria],” he said.

“They are a risk now. Hotspots will change, they will change without warning.

“When things go south, we will move quickly and you can be left stranded.

“I don’t take any pleasure in that, that’s something Territorians need to know.

“I will not be waiting for people to come home before I declare a hotspot and put up hard borders.”

Jim Jim Falls in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, Darwin, on July 3, 2015.
Jim Jim Falls in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, Darwin. Source: AAP/Dean Lewins

Mr Gunner said “a lot of” Territorians were “probably” looking at Victoria right now and thinking, “Thank God for our hard borders and thank God that it is not us”.

“But we should also be thinking, ‘That could be us, let’s make sure it isn’t us’,” he said.

“Victoria is out of control because too many Victorians got complacent.

“Our hard borders have kept us safe, but it hasn’t just been the borders.

“But what really stops the spread is you. It was Territorians who made the Territory the safest place in Australia.

“We became the safest because you are the best. I don’t want our success to breed complacency.

“So let’s all of us think of our friends in Victoria, see what they are going through and use it is as a wake up call.”

Mr Gunner urged people to continue social distancing, washing their hands, and staying home when they get sick and get tested.

“Let’s be honest we are all guilty of slacking off a bit,” he said.

“We’ve all shaken the occasional hand when we know we shouldn’t.

“We’ve not kept our distance like we used to. I’m guilty of it as well. I’ll cop that.

“[NT’s Chief Health Officer] Dr [Hugh] Heggie has said this to me a million times, human behaviour is the most important factor in dealing with this virus, so let’s all go back to the habit.”

Tasmania closes borders to Victoria

Tasmania's border will be shut to Victorians, but the island state still plans to reopen to travellers from the rest of the mainland later this month.Victorians have been blocked from travelling to Tasmania and anyone who arrives from the state without an exemption will be turned away at their own cost.

The ban, which comes into place at midnight on Wednesday, also includes people who have been in Victoria in the 14 days before their travel.

"The only exception to that will be Tasmanians returning home," Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters.

"If visitors arrive from Victoria without an exemption letter, they will be asked to return home. They will be turned back at their own expense."

It comes amid a coronavirus spike in Melbourne which will force more than five million people in the city into lockdown from Thursday.

Tasmania has gone more than 50 days without recording a COVID-19 case and is free of active cases.

The state is planning to reopen its border to mainland Australia on July 24, but Mr Gutwein said that will now exclude Victoria.

He said Victorians could apply for an exemption on compassionate grounds but they are unlikely to be granted one in the short term.

Businesses are no longer allowed to fly in essential workers from Victoria, unless they can prove the skills don't exist in other states.

"Our aim is to ensure Tasmania doesn't suffer a second wave, like Victoria is now suffering," Mr Gutwein said.

"I want to extend our thoughts and support to the Victorians who are in lockdown at the moment."

Biosecurity officers will be stationed at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne and the city's Spirit of Tasmania Bass Strait ferry port.

Tasmanians returning from Victoria will no longer be allowed to quarantine at home and must instead spend 14 days at a government facility.

Mr Gutwein said the new measures would be reviewed on an ongoing basis, but the six-week Victorian lockdown would provide some guidance.

with AAP

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