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NT Government reveals five step plan to COVID freedom, with no jab, no entry policy

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The NT Government has revealed its COVID-19 roadmap to freedom, which involves a five step plan.

- Tough border protection measures for unvaccinated visitors
- More freedoms for vaccinated Territorians
- Compulsory vaccinations for high-risk workers
- Greater protections for remote communities
- Added safeguards for kids under 12

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says getting vaccinated is vital to keeping the Territory safe and open.

With plenty of appointments available Territory-wide, Mr Gunner says complacency appears to be a big issue.

“Vaccine complacency is a bigger challenge for us than vaccine hesitancy or opposition,” he says.

“There are plenty of people who intend to get the vaccine but don’t see it as a priority and haven’t got around to it.”

“If this applies to you, I am telling you, make time to get it done, make it a priority.”

But before any changes are made to borders and COVID measures, 80 per cent of Territorians will need to be fully vaccinated, which the government hopes to reach by early November.

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Key challenges

Once that vaccination target is reached, the government will still have to navigate how borders are managed and its response to future COVID outbreaks.

With only 20 ICU beds in the NT and capacity for only eight to be designated for COVID-19 patients, authorities remain focused on keeping COVID out.

To help achieve that, Mr Gunner has revealed a new three-tier travel system that depends on people’s vaccination status.

Green zone travellers which includes those arriving in the Territory from a non-COVID hotspot will be granted free access to the NT.

Orange zone travellers, which relates to arrivals from an area with a medium-level COVID risk such as places with exposure sites and positive wastewater results will be able to quarantine at home until they receive a negative COVID test if they are fully vaccinated.

Red zone travellers, which applies to anyone entering the NT from a COVID hotspot will also be allowed to quarantine at home if they are inoculated.

Unvaccinated travellers who fall under the orange and red zone categories will not be able to enter the Territory without prior approval.

But if their travel to the NT is approved, they must undergo 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at their own expense.

Future outbreaks

While Mr Gunner has not ruled out lockdowns when the NT reaches its vaccination target, he has touted an alternative approach for vaccinated residents.

“If the health advice says a quick circuit-breaker lockdown is needed following an outbreak, we will do it, if it’s the best thing to save jobs and save lives in the Territory.”

“Depending on the circumstances of an outbreak, instead of an automatic lockdown we may go straight into what we call a lock-out.”

“Under a lock-out, vaccinated people will not be locked down, they can continue to work, go shopping, play sport, hit the town, with a mask wearing requirement in some circumstances, there may [also] be some internal travel restrictions.”

Business implications

Changes will soon be made to the Territory Check-in App so that it can be linked to people’s COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

“That will help venues ensure that only vaccinated are entering their premises during a lockdown or lock-out situation,” Mr Gunner says.

“Businesses and venues will have the right to refuse entry to unvaccinated people whether or not there is an outbreak,” he says.

“For vaccinated people the Check-in App will basically be your freedom pass.”