Probing the polls: division over masks, and should we shut down the border?

Genevieve Jacobs 8 January 2021 12
COVID-19 warning sign

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

As the ACT grapples with the implications of a COVID-19 outbreak just up the road in Sydney, locals are divided on the value of further restrictions.

While the ACT remains virus-free, apart from the occasional quarantined traveller, outbreaks in Sydney and now Brisbane have caused widespread concern so the ACT decided to close its borders. But do we need to be doing more?

Last week, we wondered whether the ACT’s current fairly relaxed attitude to masks and other preventative measures should be enhanced.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has introduced the mandatory wearing of face masks in indoor settings such as shopping centres, public transport and entertainment venues, but the ACT Government has confirmed it won’t change local advice as there are no known cases of community transmission in Canberra.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 boosts ACT Public Service workforce, hastens digital take-up

We asked, Should we be wearing masks and taking greater precautions in the ACT? A total of 1552 people voted in the poll and results were close.

Your choices were to vote No, we’re not facing significant risks and there’s no need to panic. This received 52 per cent of the total or 811 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, let’s do everything possible to keep ourselves safe until the vaccine arrives. This received 48 per cent of the total or 741 votes.

This week, we’re pondering whether the controls on ACT borders are tight enough. Currently, police are stopping cars on the Federal Highway and a checkpoint has been established on the border at Queanbeyan.

The Federal Highway is the main entry point for Sydney travellers and poses the greatest risk, chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman says. Non-residents who have been to Brisbane, Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast cannot enter the ACT.

From 3:00 pm tomorrow (9 January), non-residents without an exemption to be in the ACT arriving from Brisbane by plane will be denied entry and will be sent back to Brisbane.

Residents who have been to any of these areas must quarantine for 14 days. There are around 2,900 people currently in quarantine in the ACT.

A checkpoint was established at Hall on Thursday (7 January), and Goulburn and Yass residents have expressed concerns about accessing employment and other essential services in the ACT.

READ ALSO: Will anyone be missing Summernats in Canberra this weekend?

ACT Policing and health authorities say that residents have been co-operative and compliant with health directions throughout the pandemic, but the risks posed by around 80 non-residents attempting to enter the ACT each day from hotspots is significant.

Dr Coleman says the travel restrictions should make it “absolutely clear” that non-ACT residents who live in, or have recently visited COVID-19 affected areas cannot enter the Territory. Anyone caught breaking the new rules can be fined up to $8000, acting Health Minister Chris Steel said.

This week, we’re wondering whether you think border restrictions need to be tougher. Our question is:

Should we shut down the ACT’s borders completely?

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12 Responses to Probing the polls: division over masks, and should we shut down the border?
Tan Choi Heng Tan Choi Heng 10:53 am 09 Jan 21

"majority rule, minority rights and public policy"

Ampliss Kinkaide Ampliss Kinkaide 10:01 am 09 Jan 21

What I do is follow the rules that the authorities issue, when they issue them ... what I don't do is invent my own rules and think others are deficient for not following them ... I also don't put pressure on the government to do what I think is best, seeing as like most people, including the media, I have no expertise in disease control and national economic management

Toni Isaacson Toni Isaacson 8:32 am 09 Jan 21

I drove in yesterday from Melbourne and absolutely no sign of anything at the border. Disappointing, as surely people coming from Sydney could take a detour via Yass and enter that way? Some people will do anything to flout rules if it means they get what they want.

Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 5:21 am 09 Jan 21

We are so closely interwined with NSW that We need to move to and from our homes there. 3 hour queue on federal highway slowed food deliveries, work schedules . Could we have an ACT regional pandemic border at goulburn and past Yass and bungendore?

Jen Jen Jen Jen 1:40 am 09 Jan 21

The border cannot be closed - at least not to qbn, Yass etc...

Eleanor Taylor Eleanor Taylor 11:02 pm 08 Jan 21

Question is does shutting the borders mean the geographic borders or the 'Canberra bubble' borders which includes Queanbeyan and the like? I'm prepared to accept the slightly larger risk of the bubble area but as a parent of an immunodeficient child our COVID free status here means the difference between going to church or not, going to the supermarket or click and collect etc. The kid in question already does Distance Education so any extra protection means real isolation if as a city area we don't take action. This is the difference between experiencing life or risking life for a 15 yr old.

    Leanne Browning Leanne Browning 10:37 pm 09 Jan 21

    I am in the same boat WITH my son. Good Luck.

Alison Manders Alison Manders 9:54 pm 08 Jan 21

I have worn a mask at work every day since April. I have been abused, made fun of, and celebrated. I am not doing it for me. I do it for my customers who are overwhelmingly in vulnerable groups. No regrets.

I am currently in 14 days iso because I went to visit my mum in Brisbane. Again. No regrets. I believe the response is proportionate to the risk. 😉

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 4:49 pm 09 Jan 21

    Why would you be abused for wearing a mask?

    Narelle Greentree Rixon Narelle Greentree Rixon 8:47 pm 09 Jan 21

    Russell Nankervis also to wash hand, distancing, people abuse you, not sure where they are from as its NORM now

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 8:52 pm 09 Jan 21

    I get irate if people don't keep their distance and I am constantly washing my hands. I work in retail so I have to touch cash most days which is also a paid

    Alison Manders Alison Manders 8:55 pm 09 Jan 21

    Russell also in retail and it is mostly not my regulars who are having a go. It is randoms who don’t know me from Eve. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to you after a while. 😕

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