Government says forget going to Melbourne as new measures imposed

Ian Bushnell 5 July 2020
nurse, healthcare worker, doctor,

Anyone visiting from Melbourne is being urged to check for any symptoms and get tested. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

The ACT has imposed new measures on travellers from Victoria, and Canberrans have been told not to visit any of the COVID-19 hotspots and to reconsider any travel plans to Melbourne.

The ACT Government issued a new Public Health Direction this morning to complement the Victorian Government’s ‘stay at home’ orders in identified COVID-19 hotspots.

Anyone visiting the ACT from Victoria will have to quarantine in the Territory for 14 days at their own expense or return to their home jurisdiction at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

Passengers on inbound flights from Melbourne will also be asked to provide identification when they arrive at Canberra Airport.

The government says anyone who fails to comply with the direction may face penalties and fines.

Anyone already in the ACT who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot is urged to quarantine for 14 days from the date they left the hotspot, even if they do not have any symptoms.

In addition, anyone coming into the ACT from the greater Melbourne metropolitan area should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and are urged to get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.

The government says Canberrans should not be planning on visiting any of the affected postcodes, and all non-essential travel to Melbourne should be reconsidered for the foreseeable future.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Victorian spike was a reminder that the pandemic was far from over.

”It has a long way to run and this outbreak in Melbourne won’t be the only one in Australia in the months and possibly years ahead,” he said.

”With school holidays coming up, nobody from the ACT should be travelling to visit friends or family if they are in Melbourne.

”No one in the ACT should be inviting friends and family from Melbourne to come and visit.”

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said the situation in Melbourne was concerning and had evolved quickly in the past week.

It was a reminder of how quickly cases and community transmission of the virus could escalate and spread.

“COVID-19 cases have increased significantly, and this direction will help to protect Canberrans and our most vulnerable community members from the potential spread of COVID-19,” she said.

“We ask that people respect the direction and not travel to the ACT from the identified hotspot areas of Melbourne.”

She said health officials would greet travellers as they arrive in Canberra by bus, rail and air to cross-check their residential address with a hotspot postcode and ask whether they had been in a hotspot in the past 14 days.

Dr Coleman said the ACT would not conduct health screening as is being done in NSW, saying the evidence of its benefits was not strong.

She was confident that people would self-isolate properly and get tested if needed.

”I think Canberrans have demonstrated a very strong response to self-isolation and quarantine,” she said. ”We have had very good levels of compliance.”

So far 31,500 tests had been conducted in the ACT. Testing levels for international travellers in quarantine has been at 80 per cent or more, and many not tested were infants.

Dr Coleman said it was not expected that many Victorians would be among travellers coming to the ACT.

The current direction is in force until 29 July and will be reviewed at that time.

Mr Barr said the current health advice was that the ACT could still move to more relaxed Stage 3 restrictions next Friday as planned and the government will announce what that will look like on Monday.

It is now 26 days since the ACT recorded a new case.

Further information, including the list of affected Melbourne postcodes and testing sites in the ACT, can be found on the ACT COVID-19 website.

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