All passengers on five flights arriving at Canberra Airport from Brisbane this evening will be met by ACT Health or ACT Policing and directed to quarantine, while unauthorised travellers arriving from 3:00 pm tomorrow will be denied entry to the ACT altogether.
Despite the new restrictions coming into effect at 3:00 pm today (8 January), no one arriving by plane tonight will be turned back, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman confirmed.
“They will be provided with information, they will not be turned away. If Greater Brisbane residents choose to come into the ACT at this point in time, they will be required to enter quarantine.”
The same rules apply to people who have visited the Greater Brisbane area and are already in the ACT. They must fill out an online declaration by 3:00 pm Saturday and self-isolate.
Non-residents will be allowed to leave the ACT immediately if they wish to do so.
However, if you arrive in the ACT after 3:00 pm tomorrow by plane, non-residents who do not have an exemption to be in the ACT will be denied entry to the ACT and will be turned around. Residents will have to commence 14-days quarantine.
On the same day that new restrictions were introduced in response to a hotel quarantine staff member in Queensland being diagnosed with a more infectious UK strain of COVID-19, National Cabinet moved to limit the number of flights coming into Australia.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed that this meant the ACT would not be receiving a scheduled repatriation flight within the next month.
“It is clear that a more highly contagious form of the virus in the middle of major city CBDs is a greater risk,” he said.
“How well we can mitigate that risk is what we are looking at and that is why the decision was taken to effectively buy the country some time to assess that.
“We have a lot of natural advantages being an island on the other side of the world and we need to make sure we maintain that advantage.”
Mr Barr also indicated that the new restrictions would essentially keep international students away from Australian universities for the foreseeable future despite initial hopes they would be able to return for semester one.
“It is very, very difficult [to accept international students]. The implications of this are very significant,” he said.
“I have no confidence whatsoever to be able to [say] when international students can come back other than I do not think it is any time soon.
“This has been a very ordinary couple of years for the university sector and I think it is going to continue to be, unfortunately. Suffice to say, I do not think revenue from international students for the Australian university sector will ever return to its pre-COVID levels.”