Chief Minister Michael Gunner says he still cannot provide a firm date to reopen the borders, but will scrap the requirement for interstate travelers to stay in mandatory monitored quarantine at government-selected hotels at a cost of $2500, as of June 15.
Travelers will now be permitted to stay in their own home for 14-day self-quarantine if returning to the NT or in their own selected facilities if coming to visit.
Mr Gunner said while it remains unsafe to open the borders outright, the Territory will be reviewing that decision on a weekly basis now because of the slowed transmission of COVID-19 cases in southern states.
“Today’s update is great news for the Territory, it is progress,” Mr Gunner said Thursday morning. “It is a big step, we’re doing it for Territorians, because you deserve it, because you have been the best. We closed the borders protect you. And we’re making this change, to help you.”
Interstate arrivals will have to follow the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines upon arrival and will be subject to police and environmental health officer checks, with fines still applying if found to be breaking the guidelines.
“This change will not apply to people arriving from overseas, including overseas arrivals transiting from interstate monitored quarantine will continue to apply for them for now, given the much higher risk they pose,” Mr Gunner said.
No date for NT borders to fully reopen
Mr Gunner was defiant in the wake of growing pressure being applied by the business, hospitality and tourism industry to open the borders, saying he would not be rushed into making a decision.
“I know there’s a strong and loud campaign happening right now telling me to name a date,” he said. “I will not pluck a date out of thin air, until I can be sure it is safe, and that we will stick to it, because I will not make stuff up, and I will not stuff people around.”
Mr Gunner said the decision to keep the borders restricted will be reviewed every week starting June 15, rather than the current monthly assessment.
“We will make a weekly assessment on this to consider the evidence in other states to consider the results of community quarantine,” he said. “And then we can make a call on easing the border restrictions. Once it is safe, and only once it is safe.”
Industry groups had called for Mr Gunner to open the borders by July 1, but he said a firm date would not be provided.
“I’ve become more and more confident every day that we can ease border restrictions sooner rather than later,” Mr Gunner said. “Not next week, not next month, but sooner rather than later.”