The Gunner Government should implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for all interstate arrivals as of July 17, says Tracey Hayes, the Country Liberals candidate for Fannie Bay.
Ms Hayes said the government should be using the next 10 days to prepare for the influx of arrivals after the NT’s borders reopen to the rest of the country by getting mass testing ready.
“We all agree that our borders need to open so our tourism, hospitality and accommodation businesses can take some benefits from the traditionally high dry season,” she said in a statement.
“However, safety of Territorians comes first and with the rise in cases in Victoria over the past week and now NSW closing its border to Victoria, it makes sense for the Gunner Government to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for all arrivals upon entry.”
Ms Hayes’ call comes after Chief Minister Michael Gunner declared the entire city of Melbourne a coronavirus “hot spot”, meaning anyone coming to the NT who admits to having been in Melbourne will be subject to two weeks of mandatory supervised quarantine.
But Mr Gunner stopped short of banning all of Victoria, as that state suffers through an alarming outbreak of coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday afternoon, Victoria premier Daniel Andrews announced that Melbourne would be put back into stage three restrictions effective from midnight. That came following another 191 new confirmed cases on Tuesday.
Ms Hayes says the best solution for keeping Territorians safe is to test everyone coming into the NT.
“If COVID-19 is detected it would then allow for effective tracing,” Ms Hayes said. “Ultimately, the more people we test, the safer it will be for everyone.”
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said earlier on Tuesday that the NT Government was watching the “evolving rapidly” situation in Victoria and could still change conditions of entry to the NT before the borders reopen next Friday.
“We have 10 days until we see the next change in the Northern Territory’s border restrictions – and so we’re able to listen to the clinical evidence and make decisions,” she said.
“Right now, we have got the hotspots across Melbourne and that’s why we have said that anyone coming in after the 17th, expect to go to mandatory quarantine from Melbourne, but that could change over the coming hours, days, weeks.”
Ms Fyles said testing was available for anyone who wanted it, after the Territory’s most recent case that saw a man from Melbourne diagnosed with coronavirus last week. He remains in hospital as the government conducts contact tracing on others who were on his flight from Brisbane.
“We did nearly 2000 coronavirus tests in the Territory last week,” she said. “We can make arrangements for you to get tested in terms of people that may have been on that flight, please.”
Ms Fyles did not say if the government was considering testing everyone who enters the NT as of next Friday.