16 October 2021

UPDATED: ACT border bubble expands to South Coast, regional NSW; Territory records 20 new cases

| Lottie Twyford
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There are 15 people in hospital with COVID in the ACT, including 10 in ICU. Photo: File.

ACT Health has reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 to 8 pm last night.

Yesterday there were 35 new cases and another death at Calvary Haydon.

Of the new cases, 14 are linked to known cases or ongoing clusters.

There are 15 patients in ACT hospitals, including 10 in intensive care.

According to ACT Health, 77.3 per cent of the ACT’s 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated.

From midday today, ACT residents can travel for any reason to an expanded list of approved border postcodes in the surrounding NSW region. NSW residents from these approved postcodes can also travel to the ACT freely.

ACT residents will not need to quarantine when returning from an approved border postcode unless they are identified as a close contact from an ACT or NSW exposure location, or if they are coming from a COVID-affected area outside the approved border postcodes.

More information on the approved postcodes is posted below.

In NSW, there were 319 new cases and two deaths.

Yesterday there were 399 local cases and four deaths.

NSW could pass the 80 per cent double dose vaccination target today for people aged 16-plus.

There are currently 652 people in hospital with COVID, including 138 in ICU.

In Victoria, there were 1993 new cases and seven deaths to 8 pm last night.

More than 63 per cent of the state’s population aged 16 years and older are double vaxed.

Yesterday the state had 2179 cases and six deaths.

South Coast beach

The beach is calling again! From midday today, ACT residents can travel to the South Coast. Photo: Alex Rea.

9:30 am: In a step towards a ‘normalisation’ of the border, the ACT Government has expanded the current border bubble to include the South Coast, Thredbo, Perisher Valley and areas such as Young.

The expansion of the border bubble will come into force at midday today.

The announcement was made early this morning (16 October) following Thursday night’s move by the NSW Government to remove the ACT as a COVID-19-affected area.

In a statement, the ACT Government said the reasons for travelling into these postcodes from the ACT will be aligned with the NSW Government’s approved reasons for travel.

When in NSW, Canberrans must comply with NSW Health directions, which includes the need to be fully vaccinated before travelling and checking in to many venues.

ACT residents travelling beyond these expanded postcodes will have to quarantine for 14 days when they return home. Quarantine may also be required if ACT residents are identified as close contact from an ACT or NSW exposure location.

The full list of approved postcodes is below.

List of approved postcodes

The expanded list of approved postcodes from midday today. Photo: ACT Health.

It’s expected that the ACT will now assess further travel arrangements for ACT residents when the next step of the pathway is implemented at the end of this month.

“As we have seen throughout this pandemic, travel restrictions are temporary. As more people get fully vaccinated in regional NSW and the ACT, Canberrans can expect that travel restrictions will be relaxed further,” Chief Minister Barr said in a statement.

“This is a balancing act. Canberrans didn’t go through nine weeks of lockdown only to see a spike in cases. That’s why we are implementing a gradual easing of restrictions, and the same goes for our travel requirements for returning ACT residents.”

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith urged Canberrans to be vigilant if they decide to travel interstate and follow COVID-safe behaviours.

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Also interstate, Victoria yesterday overhauled its permit system with the changes to come into effect on Tuesday, 19 October. Now, fully vaccinated people who arrive from orange zones (such as the ACT) will no longer be required to test and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Previously, red zone permits were only available to Victorian residents who had to quarantine for 14 days regardless of vaccination status. All orange zone permit holders had to get tested within 72 hours of entering Victoria and stay isolated until they received a negative result.

At this stage, ACT residents will still require a valid exemption from ACT Health to return from Victoria.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr yesterday asked Canberrans for patience, saying the next few weeks were not the time to be travelling interstate for a “holiday”.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also announced international travel to NSW would resume for vaccinated travellers from 1 November.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr also waded into the discussion at yesterday’s press conference, saying discussions with NSW and Victoria would need to be undertaken to allow for smooth transit arrangements.

He thinks it unlikely that international flights will arrive directly in the ACT in the coming months at least.

Later in the afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to wrest back control of the country’s international borders, which he said remained the concern of the Commonwealth.

He said that while he welcomed the announcement, the quarantine-free travel would only apply to returning Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members at first.

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

Overnight, the Grass Parrot Room and the Kangaroo Room at the Narrabundah Early Childhood School were listed as close contact sites for Monday, 11 October and Tuesday, 12 October between 9 am and 3:30 pm.

In line with the new directions, only close contacts will be directed to quarantine and secondary contacts will not have to.

There were no new casual contact sites added overnight. As a reminder, investigation locations and monitor for symptoms locations will no longer be listed online.

There are still 129 active contact sites listed online. See ACT Health for more information.

Case numbers will be released later this morning.

More to come.

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Andrew Sutton5:02 pm 16 Oct 21

Whilst it is great the “border bubble” is expanding, can anyone please explain why the Mollymook area has not been included? I know it is part of the Shoalhaven but surely this area could have been added as have the other south coast areas.

It appears that ACT residents can now visit Batemans Bay and return without needing a reasonable excuse and without the requirement for notification or isolation, in other words, without restrictions.
However, a resident of Batemans Bay still requires an exemption to enter the ACT and is required to quarantine for 14 days?
Have I missed something, or is that the current situation?

Yes you have missed something. It is now both directions.

The quote below is from the first web page you fine if you google ACT border bubble.

“ If you live outside the ACT in one of the approved border postcodes, you can enter the ACT under a standing exemption for any reason.”

There is no reason for being pedantic with the rules. Ironically as NSW reopened the cases have plummeted showing that Australians do not respond well to authoritative restrictions. If only The Vic government had swallowed their pride and done the same their case numbers might be low also. Just enjoy your life and live freely. It is your responsibility to take your own precautions and look after your own health so choices about masks, social distancing and vaccines should be left to the individual. I’ve just arrived in Sydney and plan to enjoy the weekend at the races!

As per the first couple of sentences of this story ‘From midday today, ACT residents can travel for any reason to an expanded list of approved border postcodes in the surrounding NSW region. NSW residents from these approved postcodes can also travel to the ACT freely”.

I hope you enjoy it as you will have to do 14 days quarantine on your return to the ACT. Sydney is not part of the expanded travel area.

Sam there is a lag, so case numbers will rise again in about a week or so due to reopening and the drop we are seeing is reflective of what happens one to two weeks ago in NSW.

Not complaining as it is to be expected and all part of opening up.

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