3 August 2020

ACT Government upgrades travel advice for Greater Sydney, easing restrictions unlikely

| Dominic Giannini
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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has upgraded the advice for Canberrans thinking of travelling outside the ACT. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

ACT residents have been strongly advised against travelling to Greater Sydney as clusters of COVID-19 cases continue to spread throughout the city.

Only essential travel should be undertaken, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said, while those who plan on travelling to regional NSW are being told to reconsider their need to travel.

Returning residents who have visited locations that have been identified as hotspots by NSW Health must legally self-quarantine for 14-days upon their return to the ACT, even if they do not have symptoms.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr also flagged that the planned easing of restrictions to stage 3 in the Territory would be put on hold for the foreseeable future as the number of cases in Victoria continues to grow by the hundreds each day, and steady increases in NSW meant there was too much uncertainty around easing restrictions.

But despite the influx of COVID-19 cases across Sydney, the health advice remains that Canberrans do not need to wear masks, Minister Stephen-Smith said.

SEE ALSO Woolworths urges face masks for staff and customers at ACT stores

“The Chief Health Officer’s advice is that masks, generally, are not needed in the ACT for people going out and about for their normal business; we do not have community transmission evident here,” she said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the further easing of restrictions which are set to come into effect next Friday (7 August) is likely to be postponed again. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“In terms of people who are coming to the ACT from Sydney, [wearing masks] is a valid point. We are not seeing community transmission even in the Greater Sydney region at this point in time – the vast majority of cases are being traced to existing clusters.

“The risk is low for those people but we have identified that risk as a precautionary response so it would be a sensible additional precaution if people do need to travel to the ACT from Sydney for people to wear a mask if they have one, but it is not a recommendation at this point in time.”

SEE ALSO Labor Clubs close, others reduce hours amid COVID-19 uncertainty

Further consultation with the hospitality industry has also been flagged for next week, despite it being unlikely restrictions will ease, the Chief Minister said.

Businesses hit out at the ACT Government on Monday for not giving them enough notice about restrictions changing, but Mr Barr says the uncertainty around the situation makes it hard to announce measures too far in advance.

“It is not compulsory for a particular business to move to the next phase from the time the public health directions might allow it,” he said. “What we do not want to do is make an announcement a week out and then have circumstances change in such a way that means we have to rescind an announcement.

“Although we have done exceptionally well here in the ACT, and we have no evidence of community transmission, we sit within a region, and within a nation, and within a world in which a virus can move incredibly quickly.”

The ACT again recorded no new COVID-19 cases today (Friday, 31 July), and only one active case remains in the Territory.

For more information on the legal requirements for quarantine and for information for travellers entering the ACT, visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.

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