NSW and VIC reopen borders to each other, Darwin in lockout, Katherine in lockdown

NSW and VIC reopen borders to each other, Darwin in lockout, Katherine in lockdown

Free travel between Australia’s two biggest states is now permitted after border restrictions between New South Wales and Victoria were eased overnight, well ahead of the busy Christmas travel period.

Meanwhile, a positive case of community transmission in the Northern Territory has sent Greater Darwin into a 72-hour ‘lockout’ and Katherine into a three-day lockdown as of midnight last night.

In a joint statement between NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and VIC Premier Daniel Andrews, the two have agreed to open borders because of high vaccination rates in both states.

Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer declared yesterday that from 11.59pm last night the ACT and all remaining orange zones in New South Wales would become green zones under VIC’s travel permit system.

This means, for the first time in more than six months, all local government areas (LGAs) in all states and territories across Australia will be green zones for the purpose of entering Victoria.

Travellers, including workers, who are entering Victoria from a green zone face no testing or quarantine requirements, but are still required to obtain a permit from Service Victoria before they arrive, to verify they aren’t COVID-19 positive or required to isolate as a close contact.

There are no requirements for fully vaccinated Victorians entering New South Wales unless they have been to a place of high concern in Victoria. A Victorian who is older than 16 and not fully vaccinated is not allowed to enter NSW for recreation or a holiday.

This comes as 93.8 per cent of people in NSW aged 16 and over have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 89.1 per cent have received both doses.

In Victoria 92.7 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 82.5 per cent have had two doses.

“NSW is set to pass 90 per cent double dose vaccination in the near future, with Victoria not far behind, allowing family and friends to be reunited in the lead up to Christmas after many months of being separated,” Perrottet said.

“This milestone has only been made possible because people across NSW and Victoria have rolled up their sleeves and led the nation on the road back to normality thanks to our high vaccination rates.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews thanked people on both sides of the border for rolling up their sleeves and getting the jab.

“Thanks to the incredibly hard work of Victorians and people in New South Wales in getting vaccinated, we’re delighted to be able to have free travel between the two states once again,” Andrews said.

“Victoria and New South Wales have been through so much over the last few months, and we’re pleased that more families will now be able to reunite just in time for Christmas and the holiday season.”

The Victorian Chamber and Business NSW have united to welcome the joint announcement that Australia’s two most populous states will allow free travel between them.

“NSW and Victoria have led the way for Australia with the highest vaccination rates in the world which has now enabled us to live with COVID-19," Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter said.

“The effort that New South Wales and Victorian residents have made has been truly outstanding, and we are now able to reignite the two strongest economies and fast-track Australia’s economic recovery. 

“We are thankful for the collaboration between our State Governments to enable this to happen. We can now safely and securely plan interstate business trips, family reunions and holidays, and look forward to a wonderful Christmas period.”

Victorian Chamber chief executive Paul Guerra also welcomed the changes, saying it will help "turbocharge" the economies of both NSW and Victoria.

"Now that we are able to finally close this chapter, we should embrace the lessons learned and continue with this strong state collaboration so that we can drive the nation’s economic recovery," Guerra said.

“We can now all look forward to a wonderful summer, Christmas and New Years celebrations with family and friends, and a successful 2022 as a nation whole again.”

Single COVID case sparks NT lockdown

A positive case of community transmission in the Northern Territory - the first ever recorded in the Top End - has forced the Territory government to put Greater Darwin in ‘lockout’ and Katherine into lockdown for three days.

Effective midnight last night, the city of Katherine including Tindal will enter into a full lockdown for 72 hours.

Because of high vaccination rates in the Greater Darwin region, the below areas will enter into a ‘lockout’ for 72 hours. This means fully-vaccinated people will be able to continue to live life as normal within the following LGAs:

  • City of Darwin
  • City of Palmerston
  • Litchfield Council
  • Wagait Shire
  • Belyuen Shire
  • Dundee
  • Bynoe
  • Charlotte
  • Cox Peninsula

Unvaccinated residents, including those people who have received only their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, must stay at home for the 72 hour lockout period and are only permitted to leave for the following four reasons:

  1. Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination
  2. For essential goods and services, like groceries and medications
  3. For one hour of outdoor exercise a day within 5 km from your home with one other person or people from your house
  4. To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves.

Unvaccinated people are not able to leave the Greater Darwin Region or attend their workplace, even if they are an essential worker.

The lockdown and lockout follows confirmation of a positive COVID-19 case - a man in his 20’s who is an NT resident and lives between Humpty Doo and Katherine where he works at the RAAF Tindal Base.

He is unvaccinated and is being transported by CareFlight to the Centre of National Resilience tonight. It is not known where he contracted COVID-19. Wastewater testing is negative at this time.

The man was tested for COVID-19 on 3 November 2021 and returned a positive test tonight. He was infectious in the community between 31 October 2021 and 3 November 2021. Contact tracing is underway and the man’s household contacts in both Darwin and Katherine are isolating at home.

The man visited various locations in Darwin and Katherine during his infectious period. The exposure site locations are available at coronavirus.nt.gov.au.

Updated at 9.28am AEDT on 5 November 2021.

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