15 October 2021

UPDATED: It's not time for an interstate holiday yet - Barr pleads for Canberra's patience

| Lottie Twyford
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr and family

For Chief Minister Andrew Barr, brother Iain Barr, sister-in-law Natalie Barr, nephew Angus and niece Zoe, the first post-COVID coffee date had more spectators than most. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

UPDATED 1 pm: Despite NSW relaxing rules on the movement of ACT residents last night, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has remained steadfast in his government’s current roadmap.

He’s again pleaded with Canberrans for patience over the next few weeks, asking that travel across the border is still only done for essential reasons until the beginning of November when he anticipates greater travel freedoms will be allowed.

This is not the first time the Chief Minister has said he’s foreshadowing much greater travel freedom at the next lockdown checkpoint on 29 October.

Mr Barr said the ACT will continue to reserve the right to identify an area in NSW as a hotspot and have specific requirements for travellers from any LGAs of concern.

However, he anticipates very few will be necessary after 1 November when NSW relaxes the current Greater Sydney bubble and says he expects and anticipates freedom of movement from Sydney into the ACT from this date.

Under the current guidelines, you must only cross the border for an approved reason: work, education, medical needs, to fulfil usual childcare arrangements, or to visit friends or family.

However, upon your arrival in NSW as an ACT resident (and vice versa), you’re also then able to partake in other permitted activities in that jurisdiction – such as going to a pub.

Asked specifically about the complexities of crossing the border, Mr Barr said he did not want to underestimate people’s capacity to understand the “fundamental principles that are at play”, and did not personally think the current rules were “that complicated”.

“Every time you’re near people, it’s a transmission risk,” he said.

“Our advice to everyone is to be careful.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t travel; if you don’t need to cross the border, don’t cross the border,” he stated.

Mr Barr has repeatedly said that today is not a Freedom Day, and travelling interstate for recreation or a holiday shouldn’t yet be at the forefront of Canberrans’ minds.

Currently, it’s logistically difficult for an ACT resident to travel beyond the 27 NSW postcodes which have already been granted a standing exemption, as they require an exemption to return.

Mr Barr said a potential expansion of these postcodes was on the cards but would not be announced today. He said the vaccination rates of individual LGAs as well as case numbers would be factors to be taken into account when making these decisions.

According to Mr Barr, most Canberrans are happy with the current arrangements, which he says prioritise public health first and foremost.

He says most people will take a measured and cautious approach to heading out into the community post-lockdown.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr speaking at today’s post-lockdown COVID briefing. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

The Chief Minister also waded into the discussions around international travel, although said it was not a “particularly pertinent issue to the ACT” as direct international flights are not expected in the next few months.

Instead, he said the ACT Government will work with the Victorian, NSW, and potentially the Queensland governments around the transit arrangements for travellers who fly into an interstate airport but wish to come to Canberra.

“If you’re unvaccinated, that [transit] would be a different pathway to someone who is fully vaccinated and tests negative [to the virus],” Mr Barr explained.

The NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet today announced that from 1 November, international arrivals to NSW will require a negative PCR test before flying and upon landing, but scrapped the requirement for any kind of quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers.

Mr Barr said a sensible distinction had been drawn at a Commonwealth level between quarantine requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated overseas arrivals.

Calvary Haydon

Another COVID-19 death has been reported at Calvary Haydon aged care facility. Photo: Screenshot.

UPDATED 11:40 am: The ACT has recorded 35 new cases of COVID-19 and one death to 8 pm last night.

ACT Health has reported that a woman in her 70s died at the Calvary Haydon aged care facility. She is the eighth person to die in the ACT in this outbreak and the seventh at the facility.

Yesterday, the ACT reported 46 new cases and one death.

Of the 12-plus population in the ACT, 76 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

There are 16 people in hospital with COVID and eight in intensive care.

NSW has reported 399 local cases and four deaths in the past 24 hours.

Almost 78 per cent of its 16-plus population is double-vaxed. There are 677 people in hospital with COVID and 145 in ICU.

Yesterday the state recorded 444 new cases and four deaths.

Victoria has recorded 2179 cases and six deaths – the second day in a row new infections have exceeded 2000.

Yesterday the state had 2297 cases and 11 deaths.

As of yesterday, 62.6 per cent of eligible Victorians were fully vaccinated.

Andrew Barr

How much are you going to miss your daily dose of Chief Minister Andrew Barr? Photo: Michelle Kroll.

9:40 am: While ACT authorities avoid calling today ‘Freedom Day’, 11:59 pm last night did at least mark the end of the Territory’s hard lockdown.

Travel arrangements between NSW and the ACT changed dramatically last night, with NSW removing the ACT as a COVID-affected area.

This means ACT residents are effectively treated the same way as NSW residents. There’s no longer any need to complete a border declaration or undergo stay-at-home orders upon arriving in NSW.

In NSW, travel and freedoms are contingent on an individual being fully vaccinated.

However, ACT residents cannot leave the approved border bubble suburbs because, if they want to return, they will need to apply to ACT Health for an exemption and will more than likely be subject to stay at home orders or be required to quarantine.

READ ALSO Lockdown’s finished – so, what can I do today?

Monaro MP John Barilaro said this morning on breakfast radio that he and his federal counterpart Kristy McBain would continue to push the ACT Government for greater clarity around what rules Canberrans would be subject to on their return.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr, however, has yet to respond to the change but has previously said the government is unlikely to make any changes to regional travel allowances until 29 October.

The Opposition is urging the Chief Minister to align the cross-border travel arrangements for ACT residents with those of regional NSW.

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said that after last night’s announcement from the NSW Government that allows ACT residents to travel in NSW, it only makes sense for the ACT to follow suit.

Earlier in the week, Senator Zed Seselja called on the ACT Government to “normalise” the border.

For Victorian authorities, it triggered an automatic downgrading of the ACT from a ‘red zone’ to an ‘orange zone’. Therefore, people entering Victoria from the ACT must now apply for a permit, get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival and remain isolated until they receive a negative result.

Late yesterday evening, St Mary MacKillop Catholic College was identified as an exposure site and students will be forced to return to home learning. Both campuses have been shut down until at least next Thursday, 21 October as a precaution and to allow deep cleaning to take place.

Classes were cancelled yesterday and today.

Year 11 students had not yet returned to school, and year 12s had only been on campus since Tuesday, 5 October.

The school has not been listed as an exposure site on the ACT Health website and it was not mentioned at yesterday’s final COVID-19 daily briefing.

St Mary MacKillop College

St Mary MacKillop College has been shut down due to a positive COVID case visiting the campus.

Unfortunately, while contact tracing rules may have changed, they have not disappeared altogether, and Canberrans identified as positive cases or close contacts will still have to quarantine for 14 days.

Some hospitality businesses have expressed concern over the new system, saying it still does not allow them the certainty required to operate under current conditions.

From today, the Government will no longer identify low impact risk sites and venues where exposure has been confirmed in a customer, nor will they identify secondary contacts or household contacts (meaning these people will not need to quarantine).

While no new close contact exposure locations were listed overnight, new casual contact locations have been identified.

Visit the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website for a full list of exposure sites and specific times of concern.

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The Renaissance Apartments Construction Site (Morris Group Builders) has been listed as a venue of concern for Tuesday, 5 October between 7:30 am and 5 pm and Wednesday, 6 October between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Several public transport routes have also been listed for Friday, 8 October. These include bus route 81, which travelled from Tuggeranong Interchange to Bonython between 7:07 pm and 7:14 pm; bus route 81, which travelled from Bonython to Tuggeranong Interchange between 1:23 pm and 1:33 pm; and bus route 76, which travelled from the Tuggeranong Interchange to the Chisholm Shops between 2:19 pm and 2:36 pm.

Also of concern is bus route 76, which travelled from Chisholm Shops to Erindale Interchange between 4:12 pm and 4:26 pm and bus route 75, which travelled from Erindale Interchange to Tuggeranong Interchange between 4:12 pm and 4:26 pm.

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The Tuggeranong Discount Store was also listed three times. The times of concern are Thursday, 7 October between 7:50 am and 3:30 pm, Friday, 8 October between 8:20 am and 5 pm and Saturday, 9 October between 8:50 am and 7:30 pm.

In Canberra’s North, 7-Eleven Holt is listed as a casual contact exposure site on Friday, 8 October between 4:05 pm and 4:50 pm, Woolworths Dickson on Saturday, 9 October between 7:50 am and 8:40 am.

Pixie and Bear in Casey is also a casual exposure site between 9:30 am and 11 am on Saturday, 9 October, as is the Friendly Grocer in Hughes on Sunday, 10 October between 8 am and 12:30 pm.

The Phillip Medical and Dental Centre is also listed as a casual contact exposure site on Tuesday, 12 October, between 7 am and 7:50 am.

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It’d be nice if the other areas had the same high vaccination rates that we have. Our good work could be undone.
Thing to also remember is that some regional areas have significantly lower rates

“Thing to also remember is that some regional areas have significantly lower rates”

And in a few weeks time you can’t put this down to anything but a choice those people have made.

People choosing not to get Vaccinated should not be able to hold the rest of us hostage.

And so I rang my usual club to inquire about our freedom day entry..
Was told sorry but the club is only allowed to have 25 in the place. Yep the entire joint is only allowed to have 25 freedom dayers present…as per the law.
Am not sure if that includes staff as well.
Am surprised they have bothered to open.

I wish I lived in NSW where there is a realistic and balanced approach to this pandemic. So Mr Barr can no longer blame NSW for us being confined to the ACT any more. He will bear the consequences of that.

Feel free to move to Qangers, Yass, Cooma or Goulburn.

“He will bear the consequences of that.”
From the evidence from other recent State elections, I think you are right that he would be re-elected overwhelmingly if an election were held now, but it is not due until 2024 so by then the consequence may be different.

Capital Retro10:33 am 15 Oct 21

“However, ACT residents cannot leave the approved border bubble suburbs because, if they want to return, they will need to apply to ACT Health for an exemption and will more than likely be subject to stay at home orders or be required to quarantine.”

Does this mean ACT residents can return direct to the ACT without seeking an exemption and probable quarantine or does that only apply if the ACT residents in the border bubble postcodes go outside that area further into NSW first?

Clear as mud, as usual.

I thought it was fairly obvious. ACT residents can go to nsw bubble postcodes for essential reasons only. On return they don’t need to stay at home. But if they go beyond then all bets are off.

It sounds like you are deliberately trying to create confusion where none exists, purely as an attempt to criticise.

It is simple to understand: there is a list of areas outside of the ACT that you can travel to, then return to the ACT without needing an exemption.
If you travel outside those areas into greater NSW, then you’ll need an exemption to get back in, and will probably need to quarantine or isolate at home anyway.

Seems perfectly clear to me.

Capital Retro6:43 pm 15 Oct 21

It is clear now but it wasn’t always explained that way. Yes, I was criticizing because it wasn’t clear and I thank both you and JC for assisting.

Make it as confusing as possible. Got to raise revenue from infringements somehow

Except the act has issued very few I infringements. Going by reports only gone to the kind of people who do wrong things knowing they are wrong to prove a pointless point. .

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