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Friday, July 23, 2021

ACT shuts border to Greater Brisbane, returned travellers to quarantine

ACT residents who have been in Greater Brisbane since 15 March inclusive will need to complete an online declaration form, get tested for COVID-19 and enter quarantine until at least 6pm on 1 April, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith announced today.

The new public health direction comes into effect at 6pm tonight and mirrors the three-day lockdown announced for Brisbane earlier today. However, Ms Stephen-Smith cautioned it could be extended if Queensland sees greater community transmission.

Anyone in the ACT who has been in Greater Brisbane between 11 and 14 March inclusive will need to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Non-ACT residents coming from Greater Brisbane will require an exemption to enter the Territory from 6pm tonight. ACT Health has not yet confirmed whether they will be meeting flights at the airport, and Ms Stephen-Smith said it’s unlikely land borders would have an ACT Health or ACT Policing presence.

The current restrictions do not apply to anyone who has transited through Brisbane or Gold Coast airports from other destinations.

Canberrans have also been advised not to travel to Greater Brisbane.

With the Easter break looming, Ms Stephen-Smith recognised the new public health directions could affect people’s travel plans.

“If your flight is still going to Brisbane and you’re going on to North Queensland, then at the moment, that’s fine, but we’ve still got a few days to go until Easter and one of things we know about the pandemic is that we can’t really predict what’s going to happen over the next few days.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said she is aware of two close contacts and 11 casual contacts in the ACT relating to the Brisbane outbreak.

“If either of those [two close contacts] come back as a positive case or we get any other positive cases in the ACT, of course we’ll then inform Canberrans of any places they have been that may present a transmission risk and we will ask people to either monitor their health symptoms or to go into quarantine as required,” she said.

The new directions come after Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk this morning called on the other states and territories to declare the Greater Brisbane region a hotspot. 

Four new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were announced in the State today.

Long lines at the EPIC COVID-19 testing site today. Photo supplied.

Demand surges for COVID-19 tests

Canberra’s COVID-19 testing sites are now seeing an increase in demand, with long lines and wait times.

One reader told Canberra Weekly they waited more than three hours at the EPIC testing site today after returning from Greater Brisbane on 11 March.

Ms Stephen-Smith asked people in quarantine to wait until tomorrow to get a test to relieve some pressure on testing sites.

“If you’re in quarantine already you are not presenting any threat of transmission to the wider community, so you can wait until tomorrow to get tested, that’s absolutely fine.

“We have staffed up as much as we can but we have a very high demand for testing at the moment so those sites will be busy.

“People can also make an appointment at one of the Commonwealth-funded respiratory assessment clinics, and then you will know when your time is to get tested if you don’t want to wait at one of our sites.”

The ACT Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website; covid-19.act.gov.au  

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