Sydney’s Northern Beaches have been taken off the ACT’s list of COVID-19 affected areas, meaning Canberrans can now travel there without needing to quarantine upon returning to the ACT, and non-residents who have been in the area will no longer be barred from entering the Territory.
It’s also good news for around 75 people who have been to the Northern Beaches and will be released from quarantine in Canberra at 3:00 pm today (19 January).
When the Northern Beaches cohort is released, just under 500 people will be in quarantine in the ACT.
Ten local government areas (LGA) in Sydney remain on the ACT’s exclusion list, meaning people who have been there in the previous 14 days – excluding transiting though – cannot enter the ACT unless they are residents. Returning residents need to quarantine for 14 days and fill out a declaration form.
The 10 COVID-19 affected LGAs are:
- Blacktown City
- Canada Bay City
- Fairfield City
- Inner West
- Liverpool City
- Paramatta City
- Strathfield Municipality.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said these COVID-affected LGAs will remain on the list due to the location of exposure sites in Sydney and information about how populations in these areas interact.
“It is not just about the [exposure] locations themselves,” Dr Coleman said. “It is about looking at where people live and where people move.
“When you have a look at Western Sydney and South Western Sydney, there is quite a lot of movement around quite a few LGAs and then there is a little bit of a buffer there to give us some assurance that we are going to reduce our risk.”
Dr Coleman said she will review the current restrictions in place on Friday ahead of the Australia Day weekend.
Politicians from the affected LGAs in Sydney will be eligible for an exemption to enter the ACT for the first sitting week of the year in early February.
A number of politicians have already applied for exemptions, Dr Coleman said.
“We have a formal exemption process and there are a list of professions including healthcare workers, parliamentarians, the construction industry and we assess that on a case-by-case basis,” Dr Coleman said.
“But because the area of concern is much smaller than when we [listed] Victoria, we are able to do it a little bit more bespokely for individuals around their individual risks.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said as the number of people in quarantine in the ACT is falling, the ACT has the capacity to receive its first repatriation flight of the year, which could land as early as the first week of February.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith previously said the ACT would need to have less than 300 people in quarantine before it would be in a position to accept a flight, but Mr Barr said the number of people currently isolating is expected to reduce by the time the flight is scheduled to land.
For more information about COVID-19 travel to and from the ACT, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au/community/travel.