People living in most parts of regional Victoria should be free to travel to the Northern Territory from early November.
The NT says it will reopen it borders to them from 2 November, on condition that coronavirus cases remain low in these regions.
Four areas are still excluded
Currently four areas are still excluded from the plan, but this will change if there is no community transmission from recent cases. The exclusions are Greater Geelong, the Macedon Ranges and the Mitchell and East Gippsland shires.
The territory’s Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, said the critical factor in the decision was the success of regional Victoria in easing its restrictions while avoiding further spread of the virus.
“They are stepping out of lockdown while still staying safe, he said.”
Same plan implemented for NSW
“I know some Territorians will be concerned about letting any Victorians in without quarantining.
“I should remind anyone who may be concerned, this is the exact same plan we implemented in New South Wales and it has worked.”
Gunner emphasised that the four-week time lag between the announcement and its implementation would allow sufficient time to track two full virus replication cycles and assess the progress – or otherwise – of Victoria’s regions.
Not open to Melbourne residents
Melbourne, though, it still off-limits and the Territory’s borders remain closed to the city’s residents.
“Melbourne is continuing to look promising for us; it remains a watching brief,” Gunner said. “We will need to see that progress continue as they step out of restrictions.”
Meanwhile, the NT is continuing to relax its border entry requirements for others.
From October 16, for example, New Zealanders will be allowed quarantine-free entry to the Territory as part of the recent one-way ‘travel bubble’ arrangement between Australia and New Zealand.
Kiwis can enter NT and NSW
At the moment it is only the Northern Territory and New South Wales that are allowing New Zealanders to enter, but this is seen as Stage One of what will ultimately be a more comprehensive arrangement that will see more Australian states open their borders to the Kiwis.
New Zealand, though, it not allowing Australians to enter the country and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned her countrymen visiting Australia that may still have to quarantine on their return.