The Northern Territory has shut its border to greater Sydney to stop a virus outbreak there from spreading.
Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison says the government is heading off the threat from the Sydney outbreak, which has grown to 70 cases.
People from Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and the Illawarra will be ordered into 14-day quarantine on arrival in the NT.
“We’ve said that our number-one priority is to protect the lives of Territorians, and that if we had to, we would go hard, wide and early and we’d act quickly, and today we have again.”” Ms Manison told reporters on Sunday.
She said the restrictions are effective immediately, leaving passengers on an incoming flight from Sydney with a tough choice.
When they land they will be given the option of entering a 14-day quarantine or taking a flight straight back to Sydney.
“I know this is going to be a really difficult day for the families who are awaiting their loved ones to arrive from Sydney,” the acting chief minister said.
“Our heart goes out to you, we know Christmas is a really special time, however, again, this is about protecting Territorians.”
Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie said the restrictions could be in place for just a few days, but they may need to be extended for 14 days.
He said that would allow experts to see how quickly the outbreak in Sydney spreads.
Dr Heggie said the numbers may be small in Sydney right now, but the dispersal of cases across the region indicated the outbreak posed a high risk to the NT.
“This needs to be assessed on a daily basis, and then all of my colleagues around the country will be doing the same,” Dr Heggie said.
“So for those of us who thought we might be able to see some family and friends, for some of us it’s not going to be the case.
“And it’s going to be challenging for those people who are literally in the air at the moment, and they’re going to land and find out that there is these controls in place.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said officers were monitoring the territory’s borders for any traffic from the declared hotspot areas.
He said despite the recent relaxation of travel arrangements, police were still posted at every road border crossing point.
“We are there,” Commissioner Murphy said.
“We’re still there at the Barkly Highway, we’re still there the Victoria Highway, we’re still there at the Stuart Highway.”