NT to reopen borders, COVID-19 "eradicated"

NT to reopen borders, COVID-19 "eradicated"

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has today announced interstate borders will reopen from 17 July, giving the country four weeks' notice before visitors can enter the "safest place in Australia without question".

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Gunner said today marked 28 days since the last coronavirus patient recovered.

"That means today the Northern Territory has officially eradicated the coronavirus - the first and only place in Australia to do so," he said.

Gunner said hard borders had been the territory's most effective weapon in its arsenal against the spread of COVID-19, allowing it to be at the forefront of opening up businesses.

But in order to make today's decision, the territory government needed to be confident that the number of active cases would continue to fall with low rates of community transmission in other parts of the country

Now that 10 days have passed since mass Black Lives Matter protests in states with the highest numbers of active cases, Gunner met with NT Chief Health Officer Dr Hugh Heggie to seek his advice on allowing people in.

"10 days after mass gatherings, community transmission down south is now tracking at an acceptable risk level. This was the final piece of the puzzle," Gunner said.

"Northern Territory will keep these mandatory quarantine arrangements in place for all states and territories until 12:01am on Friday, the 17th of July. From that date, arrivals will not have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"That gives the rest of Australia four weeks notice, and it gives Territorians four weeks to get ready...it gives businesses time to prepare, and allows us to market the territory; it also gives us the time to lock in the gains that we've made and be absolutely certain that we aren't putting our progress at risk."

Photo: Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Matt Ogg

Updated at 2:20pm AEST on 18 June 2020.

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