ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has dropped a chilling warning to Canberrans about the possibility border closures and travel restrictions until the end of winter.
Barr attributed this ugly possibility to the roaring NSW COVID-19 outbreaks.
Mr Barr today expressed frustration with the various travel restrictions placed on the ACT due to Sydney’s outbreak, but said he understands the states’ zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the risk posed by the virus.
“We respect that position, but it does frustrate and disappoint us.
“I need to be clear with Canberrans that this situation is likely to remain throughout the winter.”
The ACT recorded no cases of the virus today, which marks more than a year since the last locally acquired case in the Territory, and more than 100,000 vaccination doses have now been administered through the ACT Government-run clinics.
Despite this, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are all off-limits for travellers from the ACT, while Queensland has stopped short of a hard border but is calling for their residents in NSW to return home.
Mr Barr said short of imposing a hard border between the ACT and NSW – “that’s just not possible” – there’s nothing more the ACT can do to appease the other jurisdictions.
“But if we do continue with zero cases, no community transmission, no seeding of the virus into the Canberra Region, then I would hope restrictions can be lifted on the ACT ahead of Sydney.”
It’s a veritable exercise of mental gymnastics to determine where travellers can go and what restrictions they need to abide by. And while Mr Barr said NSW could have “contained things a little bit earlier”, he laid the blame for Australia’s situation squarely at the feet of the Federal Government.
“We don’t have enough vaccines, that’s been one of the issues; we haven’t had national quarantine facilities that have been purpose built.
“[The pandemic] is going to run for many more months and we are in this situation because Australia doesn’t have enough vaccines.”
He suggested the ACT’s RAAF base at Fairbairn could be used as a small quarantine facility for Government travel.