30 December 2020

COVID-19 restrictions to remain in force in ACT until at least 6 January

| Michael Weaver
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COVID-19 warning sign after Sydney outbreak

COVID-19 warning sign after Sydney outbreak. Photo: David Murtagh.

The current level of COVID-19 restrictions for people travelling to or from the Greater Sydney and Wollongong regions will remain in place in the ACT until at least 6 January.

The ACT’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the spread of the COVID-19 virus in those areas posed too great a risk to people in the ACT and the situation would be monitored continually.

The advice from health officials is that if you are not an ACT resident and have been in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast or Wollongong since 21 December, do not travel to the ACT.

If you are a returning ACT resident, you must continue to notify ACT Health of your intention to travel to the ACT via an online declaration form, and enter quarantine for 14 days if you have been to the Northern Beaches from 11 December, or Greater Sydney, the Central Coast or Wollongong local government areas from 21 December.

“Even though the number of new cases notified daily by NSW linked to the Northern Beaches outbreak has decreased over the Christmas period we, unfortunately, have continued to see new exposure locations and community transmission occurring outside of the Northern Beaches LGA [local government area], which continues to pose a risk to the ACT community,” Dr Coleman said.

“There are currently around 160 public locations that COVID-19 cases have visited while infectious in NSW, with more than half of these occurring outside the Northern Beaches, including in Wollongong. There are nearly 50 public transport routes identified as possible exposure locations in various parts of Sydney.”

More than 1500 people are currently quarantining in the ACT and police have checked more than 15,000 people entering the ACT to ensure they are aware of the restrictions here.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said authorities will continue to monitor the situation in an effort to keep the ACT border open.

“The continuance of cases now spreading into the Greater Sydney and now the Wollongong region serves as a timely reminder that we need to maintain our vigilance to COVID-19 and that the risk is more elevated now than it has been for some time,” Mr Barr said this morning.

Dr Coleman said that given the gatherings of families and friends at this time of year, there are other potential opportunities where transmission may have occurred in private residences or functions across Greater Sydney during the Christmas period.

Canberrans are also reminded not to travel to Greater Sydney, or any other COVID-19 affected area, and to reconsider travel to NSW more broadly at this time.

NSW recorded 18 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8:00 pm last night (29 December), with an additional seven cases from returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

“We are keeping a close watch on what is happening in NSW but the situation can change quickly,” Dr Coleman said.

“We know the outbreak in NSW has already affected many holiday plans, but with new affected locations being identified daily, people are advised to reconsider their need to travel at this time.

“For those in COVID-19 affected areas of NSW, we also ask that you respect the public health direction that has been put in place and do not travel to the ACT.”

READ ALSO ACT hit by gastro and respiratory virus outbreaks

For New Year’s Eve, ACT Health and ACT Policing are urging people to celebrate at home where possible.

Consider hosting your event outside as evidence has shown that outdoor spaces present a lower risk of transmission of COVID-19 compared to indoor spaces due to better ventilation and air circulation. If it’s impossible to host outdoors, consider increasing natural ventilation by opening windows and doors, using fans or other cooling systems that bring outside air inside.

Also, take note of the names and contact numbers of everyone attending your gathering.

ACT Policing will have a visible presence around Canberra entertainment precincts this week, routinely patrolling licensed premises to identify any problem areas or people.

Officer in Charge of City Police Station, Detective Inspector Adrian Craft, said police want to see people enjoy themselves responsibly and safely in licensed premises.

Members of ACT Policing’s Territory Targeting Team will be conducting both alcohol and COVID-19 compliance checks on licensed venues all across the ACT.

For further information on travel restrictions to the ACT from NSW and access the online declaration, visit the ACT COVID-19 website.

For the most recent information on the ACT’s COVID-19 restrictions, visit the COVID-19 website changes to restrictions page.

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Calling it. Canberra’s bubble will burst with returning holiday makers from the South Coast after Christmas break. The official list of Sydney and regional coronavirus case locations makes it clear that the virus is spreading rapidly and the virus is likely to have been transported to the South Cost over the last two weeks. Canberra’s holiday makers on the South Coast will have been in close contact with many, many people directly from Sydney. Their return to Canberra will bring cases back to the ACT, and we can all expect lock down measures in the new year unless border controls and mandatory isolation are put in place for those travelling back from NSW.

It does not seem feasible we can control this spread, based on the astounding number of NSW case locations for the past 14 days, without some type of control. NSW Health Case Locations here – https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/latest-news-and-updates#latest-covid-19-case-locations-in-nsw.

Wright stuff4:12 pm 01 Jan 21

Totally agree. Canberrans returning from the coast and elsewhere in regional NSW having mixed with people from Sydney who were free to travel anywhere within the state – the risk of new cases here later this month has to be huge.

It has been reported that some doctors are criticising the border closures. It should be noted as to whether or not the doctors criticising the decisions are political or union doctors where there could be conflict of interests between associations and genuine health advisory.

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