November 22, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Tourism Australia

From today the Northern Territory requires all interstate arrivals – apart from returning residents, those with vaccine exemptions and those under 12 – to be fully vaccinated to enter the territory.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner also announced the commencement of seven-day home quarantine – and a regime of five COVID-19 tests – for fully vaccinated arrivals from hotspot areas. This replaces the existing supervised quarantine arrangement for “red zone” arrivals and is expected to run for a month before quarantine for interstate travellers is abolished completely on December 20.

The change to vaccination status, announced on Saturday, replaces an existing rule that allowed those from “green zones” or non-hotspot areas to enter the NT without any vaccine requirement or screening.

The announcement came as the territory battles a COVID-19 outbreak in at least one remote community that was sparked by the arrival of a woman from Cairns who was not fully vaccinated and who didn’t declare recent travel to Victoria.

“Our current outbreak has reminded us that COVID can come from anywhere which means we have to be more vigilant. It tells us that dishonest unvaccinated people from green zones are more risk to us than honest fully vaccinated people from red zones,” said Gunner.

“If you’re eligible to be vaccinated, and you are not fully vaccinated, you are no longer welcome in the Territory, no matter where you’re coming from.”

The new home quarantine arrangement for red zone travellers requires them to have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel to the NT, a rapid antigen test on arrival in the territory, then tests on day five, eight and 14 of their stay. They will be allowed to leave home quarantine on day eight, but must stay within a high vaccination zone and avoid high risk settings such as aged care, hospitals, prisons and remote communities for the first week out of quarantine.

From December 20, rapid testing will be rolled out to all arrivals at all entry points to the Northern Territory and those arriving from red zones will no longer be required to undergo home quarantine. Full vaccination will continue to be a requirement for all visitors.