12 February 2021

UPDATED: ACT bans entry from Victoria but MPs make a last-minute dash for Canberra

| Dominic Giannini
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Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman has updated the travel advice to people in Victoria. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 3:40 pm, 12 February: The ACT will ban entry to people from Victoria for the next five days from midnight tonight (12 February) as the state prepares to enter a stage four lockdown until midnight on Wednesday.

ACT residents in Victoria have been told to stay where they are and abide by the lockdown if possible, but will be able to enter the ACT if they cannot remain in Victoria.

However, returning residents must fill out an online declaration form and quarantine for the duration of the lockdown, although the length of the quarantine is subject to change, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

“We have been monitoring the situation in Victoria closely and noting with some concern the rising number of cases, the rising number of exposure locations that have been identified … as well as the spread of these exposure locations across Greater Melbourne,” she said.

The travel restrictions were announced today after the Holiday Inn hotel cluster grew to 13 cases.

Anyone who was at Melbourne Airport, Terminal 4 (Jetstar) from 4:45 am to 2:00 pm on 9 February needs to get tested and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. They must remain in isolation even if their test result comes back negative.

Any household contacts of a person who visited Terminal 4 must also get tested and isolate, and must remain in isolation until the original person tests negative.

Anyone who attended any terminal at Melbourne Airport on 7 or 8 February must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

NSW Health is currently contacting approximately 7,000 people who have been to an exposure site then entered the state from Victoria. Jetstar does not fly into the ACT.

A full list of venues is available at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website.

People who have been to a tier one exposure site must get tested and isolate for 14 days, even if they return a negative result. Those who have been to a tier two site must isolate until they receive a negative result.

Dr Coleman also urged people in Victoria not to rush to the ACT before the restrictions come into force even as parliamentarians from the state were told to leave in order to make it to Canberra ahead of the next sitting fortnight.

When questioned why the restrictions would not come into place before midnight or if there was any risk of people from Victoria travelling to the ACT to avoid lockdowns, Dr Coleman said ACT Health was continuing to learn from previous outbreaks.

Restrictions on the Greater Sydney region during December’s Northern Beaches cluster often came into place an hour after they were announced.

“The focus for me is those tier one exposure sites, [they are] the highest risk of exposure and the most likely where we are going to see cases,” she said. “If you have been to one of those exposure locations, you need to go into quarantine, and we will help you do that in the ACT.

“As we move forward, we need to be aware of the impact on people’s lives. So how much risk can we tolerate by allowing people some time to get their lives into order so this is not a surprise in an hour.

“So this is a risk balance we are learning to live with and hopefully every time we do it we get a little bit better.”

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith urged Canberrans yesterday (11 February) to reconsider their need to travel to Melbourne and warned that while the borders remained open at that stage, restrictions could change quickly.

The ACT was set to announce eased restrictions today to allow greater capacity in venues but this has now been pushed back until next week while ACT Health reviews the situation.

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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