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ACT ends mandatory quarantine for Northern Beaches

Seventy-five people will leave quarantine in the ACT today, as restrictions end this afternoon for the Northern Beaches. Around 560 people remain in quarantine from other Sydney Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Meanwhile, the ACT Government urges more Canberrans to be tested for COVID-19 as the testing rate falls.

A Public Health Direction remains in place for 10 LGAs in Western and South-western Sydney:

  • Blacktown City
  • Burwood
  • Canada Bay City
  • Canterbury-Bankstown
  • Cumberland
  • Fairfield City
  • Inner West
  • Liverpool City
  • Parramatta
  • Strathfield Municipality

The removal of the Northern Beaches LGA from the Public Health Direction reflected the improved situation in that area of Sydney, ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

People currently in quarantine in the ACT from the Northern Beaches will be notified they can resume everyday life through SMS and email from ACT Health from 3pm today.

ACT residents and non-residents who have been in the remaining 10 COVID-19 affected LGAs of Western and South-western Sydney excluding the Northern Beaches in the past 14 days must complete their quarantine period.

“These remaining LGAs of Sydney still pose a high enough risk to the ACT for us to retain our existing travel and quarantine requirements,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said. “We continue to urge Canberrans not to travel to those LGAs.”

  • ACT residents in these LGAs can return to the ACT, but must notify ACT Health of their intention to return via an online declaration form, and then enter quarantine for 14 days.
  • Non-ACT residents cannot legally enter the ACT without a valid exemption. If people who have been in these areas in the last fortnight need to travel to the ACT for extraordinary circumstances, they need to apply for an exemption at least three days beforehand. The ACT Government urges people from these areas to not travel to the ACT at this time.

ACT Health will continue to monitor the situation closely day by day, and work with its NSW counterparts as they mop up COVID-19 clusters still prevalent in Sydney, Mr Barr said.

These restrictions are expected to remain in place for another week. The government will update the community on Friday 22 January, to make clear what the restrictions will be over the Australia Day long weekend.

For more information, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au/community/travel

Update on COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine will become available in February, the Commonwealth Government announced last weekend.

The ACT Government is working with the Commonwealth and other state and territory governments for the smooth implementation of the five-phase rollout, Mr Barr said.

“[A vaccine] will be an important tool to combat COVID-19, and we will take a very deliberate and measured approach in the rollout of the vaccine here in the ACT,” he said.

Mr Barr called the rollout a major logistical and operational exercise. The program will at first focus on people who have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 related disease, and on those at risk of exposure, being infected with, and transmitting the virus.

“We are committed to communicating openly and in a timely way about the fine detail of the vaccine rollout, so Canberrans will know where they can get a vaccine, how they will get a vaccine, and what they will need to do when the time comes for them to get vaccinated,” he said.

Mr Barr believed there were legitimate reasons for making vaccination mandatory for certain occupations, to protect the health of workers and the people they serve, as flu vaccine is mandatory for aged care facilities.

Further details will be provided to National Cabinet at Friday’s meeting.

A new dedicated webpage on the COVID-19 website has been developed to provide further information about the vaccine rollout. This will be updated as further information becomes available.

COVID-19 testing

People returning from holidays – particularly in Greater Brisbane or from across NSW – should be vigilant about their health, and get tested if they showed any symptoms of COVID-19, said ACT Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

Testing numbers have dropped off over the last week, she said. A week ago, 1,000 people were being tested each day; that figure has fallen to 300.

People returning from outside the ACT may already have been tested, but it was possible the disease might not be detected during the incubation period of a fortnight.

“Just because you’ve been tested once negative doesn’t mean that you’re not in an incubation period,” Ms Stephen-Smith said. “So, if you then subsequently get symptoms, you absolutely must go and get tested.”

Those symptoms include fever, a cough, a sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, and a runny or blocked nose.

Testing centres are listed on the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

“Getting tested is simple, and it is one of the best things that you can do to help our community effort in COVID-19 surveillance,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“It’s not just about protecting your health or the health of your family; it’s about ensuring that if we do get a case of COVID-19 here in the ACT, that we identify that quickly; we can do the contact tracing; and break any chain of transmission. [We can] make sure that a case doesn’t become a cluster and that we don’t have community transmission here in the ACT.”

Confirmed cases update

No new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the ACT in the past 24 hours, leaving the ACT’s total at 118. There are no active cases in the ACT.

The number of negative tests recorded in the ACT is now 151,998, with 471 tests in the past 24 hours as of this morning, Tuesday 19 January.

“The passage of time will see the number of people in quarantine continue to reduce, absent a new cluster or a new outbreak elsewhere,” Mr Barr said.

Some Australians returning from overseas could be quarantined in the ACT, Mr Barr said.

On the weekend, the Federal Government announced it would provide 20 further commercial flights to bring vulnerable Australians home from regions not currently met by regular flights. This will be in addition to the 28 flights the Federal Government has facilitated since October, which have brought almost 3,900 people home.

Many of the returning Australians will be quarantined in the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs facility, but others will quarantine in other jurisdictions – including the ACT.

Mr Barr believes the repatriation flight may arrive in the first week of February.

Federal Parliament returns in a fortnight; it will sit from Monday to Thursday, 15 to 18 February. Although the ACT’s borders are closed to non-residents, exemptions exist for essential workers (including federal parliamentarians, healthcare workers, construction industry).

Several parliamentarians have applied, Dr Coleman said; they are being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

General information

The ACT Government said it was everyone’s responsibility to follow the health advice and do what we can to ensure we keep ourselves and the community safe. The Government asks Canberrans to:

  1. Physically distance from other groups whenever possible.            
  2. Continue good hand and respiratory hygiene.
  3. Use the Check In CBR app to check in when out and about.
  4. Stay home if you are unwell.
  5. Get tested if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms.

The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website for all information about the health and economic response to the pandemic in the ACT. For further information, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.

Although COVID rates in these LGAs low, remain in quarantine. Dr Coleman: Based on case locations, exposure locations, & population – where they live & where they greatly move – movements in W & SW Sydney LGAs. Consistent with Victorian decision.

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