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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Exemption now mandatory for non-ACT arrivals from Greater Sydney

A continued stream of non-ACT resident arrivals in Canberra has prompted ACT Health to introduce a mandatory exemption for non-ACT arrivals from Greater Sydney.

An updated public health direction that came into effect midday today requires all non-ACT residents travelling from COVID-19 affected areas of NSW to have an exemption to be in the ACT.

Despite the fact quarantine measures introduced on 21 December were designed to discourage Sydneysiders coming to Canberra, acting Health Minister Chris Steel said as of today nearly 25% of people quarantining in the ACT are non-residents.

“Unfortunately we are seeing non-ACT residents from these areas continuing to enter the ACT. This is higher than expected and as a result we are strengthening travel restrictions from today.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said there continues to be “around 80 non-ACT residents from COVID-19 affected areas of NSW” travelling to the ACT daily.

“As a result we now have around 2,000 people in quarantine in the ACT,” Dr Coleman said.

“We are putting in place strengthened travel restrictions to make it absolutely clear to non-ACT residents who live or have recently visited COVID-19 affected areas of NSW that they are not able to be in the ACT at this time.”

The updated public health direction, signed into effect by Dr Coleman, requires all non-ACT residents who have travelled in the Northern Beaches, Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast to apply for an exemption to enter the ACT.

The changes to the direction apply to non-ACT residents only and do not change the current travel requirements for ACT residents returning from these COVID-19 affected areas, who will still need to fill out the ACT Health online declaration form and quarantine for 14 days on return.

If people from these areas need to travel to the ACT for extraordinary circumstances, they will need to apply for an exemption at least three days prior to their travel.

Applications for exemption must be submitted at least three days prior to travel but no more than 14 days prior to the proposed travel date.

“If you are not granted an exemption from ACT Health, you are not permitted to enter the ACT. Do not come,” Mr Steel said.

“If you enter the ACT without an exemption you will be breaking a public health direction and stiff penalties apply.”

ACT Policing will be enforcing this public health direction at the borders, and will tomorrow have a presence at Federal Highway.

“They will continue to patrol roads and highways into Canberra, and will increase activities at certain times of the day,” Mr Steel said.

ACT Health will work with accommodation providers to ensure they are aware of the requirements for travellers from COVID-19 affected areas of NSW to have an exemption.

For further information on requirements for travel to the ACT from NSW, including this updated direction, visit the NSW travel page on the ACT COVID-19 website.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts