The Northern Territory has announced strict new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, with new arrivals forced to pay the bill for compulsory quarantine.
From midnight on Wednesday, every person arriving in the Northern Territory will be forced into quarantine, whether they are arriving domestically or from overseas, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Monday.
This includes people who live in the Northern Territory.
All new arrivals from midnight on Wednesday will be directed to a hotel for them to wait out the 14-day quarantine period.
However, those arriving from midnight on Friday will have to cover the cost of the mandatory quarantine.
When asked how much the government is paying for a fortnight of quarantine per person, Mr Gunner said the bill was “about $2,500”.
“You will be made to stay where we tell you to stay, but you will pay for it, not us. We have given you enough notice,” Mr Gunner said.
“If you are starting to think I don't want you here, you are right. Do not come here, we do not want you here.
“Sorry, but not right now. When all of this is over, please come to the Territory. It's the greatest place on earth, and we would be happy to have you, but not right now.”
Territory first, other states last
Mr Gunner said when he spoke with his Cabinet today he said he wanted “tougher border controls” and they agreed.
He said the decision is in retaliation to the flow of interstate arrivals to the Northern Territory where there have only been 15 confirmed coronavirus cases, and added he wanted to close the territory’s borders completely but he is at “the very limit of what we can legally do”.
“Right now we have to look after ourselves,” he said.
“Right now it is Territory first, and if that means putting the other states last, we will do that.”
Mr Gunner said as of Monday there are 16 people in forced quarantine in the Northern Territory, saying once it was announced there would be compulsory quarantine overseas arrivals “dropped off dramatically”.
“I expect the same thing will now happen to interstate arrivals, now that people know that they will be going into forced quarantine, they will drop, and especially after Friday when they have to pay for themselves,” he said.
In Darwin there are “six or seven hotels” which will be repurposed for quarantine Mr Gunner said, with 14 across the Northern Territory.
Northern Territory borders were shut on March 24. On Friday, Scott Morrison announced all overseas arrivals would be quarantined in hotels from midnight on Saturday.
Mr Morrison announced then it would be up to the states and territories to handle the cost of the quarantining and accomodation.
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