The ACT will effectively close off all travel to and from Greater Sydney and its surroundings from 11.59pm tonight, in response to the harbour city’s unfolding COVID-19 outbreak.
NSW Health today announced 68 cases of COVID-19 linked to the Northern Beaches cluster have been confirmed, with transmission now detected within Greater Sydney.
Under a new Public Health Direction to be signed into effect by ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman this evening, anyone travelling to the ACT from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven* and the Blue Mountains areas will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine. [*Illawarra is no longer included on the NSW Health list as at 21 December.]
The regions affected by the ACT announcement is the same as the area covered by today’s new Public Health Orders in NSW, where community restrictions are being tightened.
Returning ACT residents from Greater Sydney will be allowed to travel home at any time if they choose to do so, but will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine at home on arrival.
“This is not about stopping ACT residents from returning home,” Dr Coleman said.
Non-residents are being advised not to come to Canberra – however if they do so they too will be compelled to complete a 14-day quarantine.
“If you are not an ACT resident and you have been in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Illawarra-Shoalhaven and Nepean Blue Mountains, our message is simple. Do not travel to the ACT,” Dr Coleman said.
“If you come to the ACT, you will be required to quarantine, and anyone staying at the same premises with you will also be required to quarantine.”
Any Canberra-bound travellers, residents or not, from the affected NSW regions will be required to notify ACT Health in advance by completing an online declaration.
This form is expected to be available on the ACT COVID-19 website at some point this evening.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the public health direction won’t remain in place “any longer than we need to”.
“Be prepared that this is likely to continue over the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.
“This remains a rapidly evolving situation and we will keep the community updated if the situation changes.”
An existing ACT Public Health Direction covering Sydney’s Northern Beaches remains in effect, meaning anyone in the ACT who has visited the Northern Beaches area from Friday 11 December 2020 is legally required self-quarantine for 14 days from the date they were last there and get tested, even if they do not have symptoms.
In other news the ACT has recorded a new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, however this is unrelated to the Greater Sydney situation.
The ACT’s new case is a female Commonwealth official in her 40s who returned from overseas and is currently in hotel quarantine.
She underwent a routine Day 12 test yesterday which returned a positive result. She remains in hotel quarantine and is being supported by ACT Health.