Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has taken urgent action in response to a positive case of COVID-19, announcing a 72-hour lockdown that will start at midday in Darwin, the Palmerston-Darwin rural area and Katherine.
A $1,000 business lockdown payment will be brought back, which Gunner recognised was "not heaps" but government officials are in conversations with their Commonwealth counterparts about ways to provide further help.
"The best thing we can do is to lock down fast so it's as short as possible," Gunner said.
While the lockdown is in place until noon on Thursday there will only be five reasons people in affected areas can leave the home:
- Medical treatment, including COVID testing and vaccination;
- To buy essential goods and services such as groceries and medicines;
- For work that is considered essential and can't be done at home;
- One hour of exercise per day with one other person or the people that you live with, and no further than 5km from your home; and
- To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves (including for separated families who can continue to share the care of their children, or for people who need to leave a location to protect their own safety).
The NT Government is adding an additional layer of restrictions when it comes to retail.
"For everything that isn't groceries, food or medicines, where possible you'll be required to use the click and collect service to get your essential goods," the Chief Minister said.
"For example, Bunnings will not be open for the purposes of entering the store and browsing. If you need goods from Bunnings, from other essential goods providers that aren't food, groceries or pharmacy outlets, you must order the goods online first. You are then permitted to visit the store and collect them.
"This measure has been introduced to further limit all unnecessary movements in direction."
As was the case for the region's last lockdown, masks will be required when leaving the home, and this includes during exercise.
"Don't tell me you need to do vigorous exercise without a mask. Take a break from the burpees and the springs for a couple of days," he said.
"Take a walk instead. Wear your mask, we should all know how this works, and if there is a deliberate non-compliance - if Nightcliff starts looking like Bondi, police will come down hard on it.
"Your ordinary place of residence is where you are now. If you own more than one house, your residence is the place that you are now in."
It is still not known which variant the new case has, and it is because of the many unknowns that the difficult decision to escalate the health response was made.
"The positive case is a man in his 30s who traveled to the territory for legitimate work purposes on Thursday, the 12th of August," Gunner said.
"As a recent international arrival, he had been in 14-day quarantine in Sydney, departing hotel quarantine on the 12th after returning a negative test on the 10th, prior to his exit.
"On Thursday he transited from Sydney to Darwin via Canberra Airport. The ACT was a declared COVID hotspot at the time, but as per usual policy, airports are not considered part of the hotspot."
It is understood the man wore a mask during his transit.
"He landed in Darwin very late Thursday night just before midnight, and travelled by a taxi to the Hilton Hotel on Mitchell Street. Later on Friday morning, he traveled back to the airport in an Uber car to collect a hire car.
"The man visited various locations in the Darwin CBD over the next few days for a limited period of time. There are a number of exposure sites because of this.
"On Sunday morning the man attended the Royal Darwin Hospital Pandemic Clinic for a COVID test. This is a requirement we have for everyone who arrives in the territory after exiting hotel quarantine. They are required to take a test on the third day."
After his test, the man drove the hire care to Katherine where he was required for work, arriving at his hotel in Knott's Crossing just after midday on Sunday.
"He then met a friend and they travelled together to the Woolworths and Catherine," Gunner said.
"Last night, we received his positive test result. He is in isolation in his hotel in Katherine with the assistance of health staff and police. He is asymptomatic. He is being transferred to the Centre for National Resilience today."
Updated at 12:09pm AEST on 16 August 2021.
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