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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Travel from ACT to NSW discouraged this Christmas

The ACT has recorded no positive cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, following 704 tests conducted, Acting Minister for Health Chris Steel said during an announcement this afternoon, 21 December.

Minister Steel thanked Canberrans for their cooperation.

“I know the last 48 hours in particular have been difficult and an overwhelming time for many Canberrans,” he said.

“After such a challenging year, it will be hard that many people will not be able to see friends and family over the Christmas period.”

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman strongly recommended ACT residents reconsider their need to travel to NSW this festive season.

“There’s a new degree of awareness that everybody needs to have if they are choosing to travel,” she said.

“We don’t know yet what’s happening in NSW.”

In terms of travel to other states or territories, Dr Coleman said everything was looking “really nice” and ACT was continuing its arrangements with those jurisdictions.

Mr Steel said implementing travel restrictions with NSW was a “tough but necessary measure” to keep Canberrans safe.

There were 350 registration forms completed by Canberrans submitted to ACT Health overnight, notifying authorities of their return from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong areas.

The COVID-19 helpline was experiencing high demand today, and additional staff were added to manage lengthy wait times.

Dr Coleman urged anyone affected by the developing situation to seek help if they needed it.

“I know everyone is a little stressed and a little tired as the end of the year approaches. But we just ask everyone to consider everyone else’s feelings and their health and wellbeing,” she said.

Chief Health Officer addresses frequently asked questions

In response to a huge number of enquiries, ACT Health have published answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

She said the three most frequently asked questions were about travelling through COVID hotspots, transiting the ACT and who needs to quarantine.

She said ACT residents travelling through Greater Sydney, Central Coast or Wollongong on the way to the ACT will be able to do so without quarantining if they have transited through Sydney Airport only, or if they drive through the hotspot by road without stopping.

Regarding transit through the ACT, Dr Coleman said it will be permitted as long as the person is permitted to travel by their home state or territory, it is the most direct route, and if they remain in their vehicle without patronising drive-through cafes or restaurants.

Responding to the question of who needs to quarantine, she said people who returned from affected areas before 21 December do not need to quarantine, unless they were in the Northern Beaches; anyone who visited the Northern Beaches from 11 December onwards must notify ACT Health and quarantine.

Border management plan in the works

ACT Policing will not be checking every vehicle or person returning to Canberra due to the number of entry points to the ACT.

They will have a presence on the Federal Highway to capture traffic from Sydney.

Returned travellers who register their quarantine with ACT Health will receive checks from police under the same regime that has been in place since March.

Dr Coleman said the ACT Government did not want to rely on police to enforce the border.

“We don’t want to rely or have to need the police to be out there and make people do the right thing.

“We have a great tradition in the ACT, and over the last nine months the community has really come along with us.

“We are really relying on people to do the right thing, and they have proven that they are able to do that to date,” she said.

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