Sydneysiders will be able to visit the Northern Territory without quarantining from next month if NSW keeps COVID-19 under control, Chief Minister Michael Gunner says.
The Top End has now reached 28 days since their last active cases with only 34 cases overall and no deaths recorded since the pandemic began.
Visitors from regional NSW are already free to enter the territory but the government will now look to reopen to Sydneysiders on October 9.
A downward trend in new cases in NSW and superb contact tracing and testing have satisfied NT Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie it will soon be safe for Sydneysiders to enter without going into mandatory 14-day quarantine.
"We cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it. So, if something happens, if things change, if the trend goes back up in Sydney, we will not hesitate to keep their hotspot status in place for as long as we need to," Mr Gunner said.
"But if they continue to make the progress they are making - as we expect they will - we can welcome Sydneysiders back to the Territory next month. This is about giving people, especially Territorians, as much notice as possible, and as much certainty as possible, in these uncertain times."
NT to remain off limits to Victorians
The NT government hasn't closed its borders like neighbouring Western Australia and Queensland, but instead uses a hotspot system to shield its residents from interstate virus outbreaks.
If Greater Sydney comes off its list in early October, only Victoria will remain a hotspot.
The chief minister said Victoria was making progress but still had a long way to go. He urged Territorians to check on the welfare of any family or friends living in Victoria.
"Give them a call, shoot them a text. Let them know that you are thinking of them, and thank them for what they are doing," Mr Gunner said.
The latest NT government data shows that 833 people have gone into mandatory quarantine and there have been 150 coronavirus infringements issued, which include those for quarantine breaches.
Mr Gunner said he had an issue with people using the Top End as a back door to enter other states like Queensland, and he had been raising it at national cabinet meetings.
He said it was annoying to have to subsidise people from COVID-19 hotspots using his government's quarantine facilities at Howard Springs.
The chief minister urged those intending to quarantine in the NT to actually spend some time in the Territory before travelling interstate to events like the AFL grand final in Brisbane.
"I can guarantee you, the Northern Territory is a whole lot more and a whole lot better than the village at Howard Springs. It's the best place in the world," Mr Gunner said.
"So, please stick around and enjoy it a while before you bugger off."
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.