NT cuts booster eligibility to three months, imposes snap lockdown

NT cuts booster eligibility to three months, imposes snap lockdown

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced from Monday the interval between receiving a second jab and booster will be reduced to three months, as the Central Australian town of Ampilatwatja enters a 48-hour snap lockdown from 2pm today.

The announcement comes after the Territory recorded 940 cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. As part of the lockdown, masks must be worn outside of the home at all times and only essential workers who are fully vaccinated can continue to go to work.

“From 2pm today Ampilatwatja will enter a 48-hour lockdown to allow us to test the community and try to contain it as much as possible,” Gunner says.

During the lockdown, residents must stay at home and are only permitted to leave for the following five reasons:

  1. Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination.
  2. For essential goods and services, like groceries, medications or power tokens. Only one household member should visit the store, once per day.
  3. For work that is considered essential.
  4. For one hour of outdoor exercise a day within 5 km from your home with one other person or people from your house.
  5. To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves. In case of an emergency, including escaping harm from domestic/family violence.

The Chief Minister is also urging people in high-risk workplaces to book a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.  

“As we flagged last year, the booster shot will become part of the Territory mandatory vaccination policy for many workers,” Gunner says.

“We haven't gone through all the sacrifice in the past two years just to drop the ball now.”

Employees in the following high-risk workplaces will be required to receive their booster by 11 March 2021 or within four weeks of becoming eligible for a shot:

  • Hospitals
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Residential aged-care facilities
  • Disability residential facilities
  • Correctional detention facilities
  • Family violence shelters
  • Homeless shelters
  • Sobering-up shelters

Employees who come into contact with vulnerable people or perform work that is “necessary for the operation and maintenance of essential infrastructure for logistics” have until 22 April to receive the jab.

Gunner says well over half of cases are coming from Darwin and Palmerston.

“We have seen a sharp spike in cases over the last few days, mainly in Darwin, as more and more families returned home from interstate holiday.

“It's not surprising and we can expect that to continue for a few days to a week. This doesn't change our overall settings for the Territory. It just means it’s more important than ever that we stick to the measures that are in place to keep us safe.”

The snap lockdown comes after Milikapiti’s lockdown was extended until 2pm on 30 January.

Lockdowns in Gunyangara (Ski Beach) in East Arnhem, Wurrumiyanga on the Tiwi Islands and Utopia in the Barkly region are set to end at 2pm on 29 January.

People who have left those communities within the last seven days must submit to a RAT test within the next 24 hours unless they received a negative result since leaving.

More than 95 per cent of Territorians aged 16 and older have received two COVID-19 vaccines.

There are currently 4,200 active cases in the Northern Territory and 105 people in hospital. Of those, 14 are on ventilators and three are in ICU.

Updated at 4:01pm AEDT on 28 January 2022.

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