Just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced plans to reopen Australia’s internal borders by Christmas, an exploding coronavirus cluster has plunged those plans in limbo.
Going from bad to worse, South Australia’s cluster ballooned from three cases yesterday to 17 cases by Monday morning.
The outbreak triggered warnings and closures across Adelaide, and is now sparking panic interstate, with Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan making a snap decision requiring anyone entering from South Australia to go into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Now, Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner has followed suit – closing the borders to the Top End “effective immediately”.
RELATED: Follow our live coverage of the South Australian coronavirus crisis
Chief Minister Michael Gunner has changed border arrangements with South Australia, decalring the whole state as a hot spot. Picture: Che ChorleySource:News Corp Australia
Addressing media on Monday, Mr Gunner said the decision to close the border to South Australians was to manage a “critical point” in the state’s contact tracing process.
“It is what we don’t know that worries us the most,” he said.
“We are declaring South Australia a hotspot for travel to the Northern Territory effective immediately. That means that people who arrive here from South Australia this morning will be directed to supervised quarantine or given the option of returning to South Australia. “People who intend to travel here later today in South Australia will need to make a decision now – to stay there, or if they come here, to enter supervised quarantine.”
Mr Gunner said that because of the late notice behind the decision, those who enter the Northern Territory today or tomorrow from South Australia will not need to pay the $2,500.
Moments later, Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein announced his state would also be implementing new border measures with visitors from South Australia, urging anyone who had entered since November 8 to self isolate at their hotel or place of residence for 14 days.
Mr Gutwein said any further decisions on his state’s border with South Australia would be announced later today.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has shut the border to SA, who will now need to quarantine on arrival. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Passengers flying into Perth from Adelaide on Sunday evening received a shock on landing after being told to either adhere to strict new coronavirus measures or fly back home.
Anyone arriving in Perth from South Australia will now need to be tested for COVID-19 and must self-quarantine for 14 days.
The new measures for South Australia are equal to those required for New South Wales and Victoria.
So abrupt were the new measures, one Qantas flight was mid-air when the measures were introduced and passengers were given the news from health officials at the airport upon landing.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed the government has offered help to South Australia after the state’s cluster grew to 17 cases.
“This is obviously a matter of concern. We’ve offered the Australian Defence Force and any resources that are required will be provided,” Mr Hunt told Sky News.
“We’re confident that South Australia has outstanding testing, contact tracing and isolation capability.
“But these are exactly the types of incidents for which Australia has been preparing for.”
More to come
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