UPDATED 5:00 pm: The ACT Government will not introduce any new travel requirements despite Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith saying planning was underway for a regional travel bubble.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government continued to prepare for COVID-19 cases but said there was no immediate risk to the Territory.
NSW announced a record number of cases linked to the delta outbreak today – 136 new cases, only 53 of which were isolated during their infectious period.
Exposure sites have also been listed in Goulburn and Marulan. ACT Health had not been advised of any close or casual contacts from these exposure sites as of Friday afternoon (23 July).
Ms Stephen-Smith said Canberrans should not travel outside the ACT unless it is for an essential purpose and they should be prepared for restrictions to be updated at short notice.
A hard border with NSW has been ruled out.
Ms Stephen-Smith said conversations continued with local councils in the region to ensure residents can maintain day-to-day travel while stronger restrictions may be put in place for people coming from further afield.
“It would be impossible for us to make a rule that people cannot leave the ACT to go to rural NSW broadly.
“Many people live 10, 15 minutes’ drive away and work in the ACT every day, or people go and work in the local region of NSW. We are looking closely at the border arrangements within our local region.”
ACT Health said, “within our region there are thousands of essential workers who travel to the ACT each day, and thousands of people who rely on the ACT for essential goods and services”.
Standing exemption orders have already been put in place by the ACT Chief Health Officer to allow residents of surrounding NSW subject to stay at home orders to enter the Territory, as long as they have not been in a COVID-19 affected area and do not need to quarantine or isolate.
NSW residents are able to come into the ACT for essential work, school and study, medical and health needs, and compassionate grounds among other conditions of entry.
The area extends 100 km of the ACT border and includes Queanbeyan, Yass, Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Sutton and Gunning.
Provisions for people outside this region may include notifying ACT Health of their travel or apply for a travel exemption.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT would be prepared to move fast and hard on any restrictions.
Some government workers in the capital region were notified about ACT Government restrictions this afternoon but ACT Health said it had not sent out any updated health advice to government departments.
Ms Stephen-Smith said she was waiting for an update from Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman after her meeting with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
“If we know we need to [create the bubble], we will do that as quickly as we possibly can with as much detail as we possibly can,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“What we need to do is make sure we have all of that detail in place so if we have to hit the go button on effectively creating some kind of regional bubble, we have all those arrangements in place as much as we possibly can given that we do not know what will be coming at us,” she said.