Visitors arriving in the Northern Territory from Sydney will need to enter quarantine at their own expense for two weeks, as the Territory Government responds to an emerging COVID-19 cluster in the NSW capital.
The tough decision has been made ahead of the NT's scheduled reopening to much of the country this Friday, for which Victorians are also exempt due to a surge in cases.
The announcement comes after NSW reported 13 new cases today, with the total number of cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Southwest Sydney now at 34.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner (pictured) said 30 local government areas (LGAs) in Greater Metropolitan Sydney were now considered hotspots by the Territory Government.
People arriving from Sydney will need to spend $2,500 on quarantine at the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility. Chief Minister Gunner has previously indicated those who lie could face up to three years in prison.
"You don't make a decision based solely on what today's numbers are. You look at today's numbers and you map out how bad it could get," he said.
"Another factor in our decision is that New South Wales is not currently considering a localised lockdown. While there are good reasons for that, we accept that, it does increase the risk for us and it's not a risk we are prepared to accept.
"To open the door to Sydney right now when we don't know the full extent of this cluster would be a roll of the dice, and I don't gamble with the lives of Territorians."
For NSW travellers from outside Sydney flying into NT from Sydney Airport, the airport will be considered a quarantined exemption as is the case in Melbourne, so long as those travellers have not spent time in any hotspot area.
Chief Minister Gunner emphasised the Sydney hotspot declarations would be reviewed in two weeks, after a full replication cycle of the virus has taken place.
"I don't anticipate this declaration being in place for as long as Victoria's, but I will not make any promises about a date," he said.
"I know that this is a big response to a smalller outbreak, but the outbreaks in Melbourne started small too.
"I'd rather be overly cautious now and accept in a few weeks that we were too cautious, than take a risk now and discover in a few weeks that we were reckless."
Victoria reported 238 new cases overnight, of which 209 were still under investigation. There are now 27 people in the state in intensive care units (ICUs), and there was one death overnight.
Australia currently has 2,096 active cases in total, of which the vast majority are in Victoria.
Updated at 12:36pm AEST on 15 July 2020.
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