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What the ACT’s lockdown restrictions mean

Rachel Stephen-Smith puts on a colourful face mask.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith urged people not to “look for a loophole” out of following lockdown rules.(ABC News: Harry Frost)

Under the lockdown, Canberrans will be told not to leave their homes for the next seven days except for essential reasons, which include essential employment, healthcare, vaccination appointments, shopping for groceries or supplies and up to one hour of outdoor exercise.

Once again, Canberrans will also be expected to wear masks when in public.

General retail stores will close and hospitality venues will be restricted to takeaway only.

The government is asking any businesses that remain open actively discourage browsing in their stores, adding that the Check In CBR app is “critical” for anyone leaving their homes.Here’s what you can and can’t do during the ACT’s lockdownCanberra is entering lockdown, here’s what you can and can’t do for the next seven days.Read more

Parents and caregivers have been asked to keep their children home from school throughout the lockdown if they can. 

Out-of-school-hours childcare and early-education services will remain open during the lockdown, but again parents are being urged to keep their children at home if possible.

Education Minister Yvette Berry said teachers would not conduct remote learning but would prepare for it in case it became necessary.

The government also urged Canberrans not to hold family gatherings or have parties with friends.

“This is not an opportunity to browse Bunnings,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“The purpose of a lockdown is to stop people moving unnecessarily.

“The objective here is to reduce the movement of people … that’s why we are going into a lockdown.

“Now is not the time to be popping over to mum and dad’s … please stay at home.”

He added that “the virus does not respect family bubbles”.

No more than two people will be permitted to visit another household, but only for approved reasons listed on the ACT Health website.

Those reasons include helping someone who needs physical assistance or as a carer.

Intimate partner visits will be allowed, and people who live alone can identify one other household that they can visit or receive visits from.

Various men walk through Canberra wearing facemasks
A mask mandate and seven-day lockdown have been announced in the ACT after a new case of COVID-19 was confirmed.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty )

Mr Barr told Canberrans to stay in their own local areas, unless for essential purposes.

“Our general guidance is to stay within your local area, so if you live in Belconnen, exercise in Belconnen, get your groceries in Belconnen. Do not be travelling across the ACT for exercise or essential supplies,” he said.

“It goes without saying, now is not the time to have friends over, to have parties. We really need this lockdown to be effective and we have seen in parts of Australia what happens when people do the wrong thing.”

He said it was “critical” for people’s health that they take every precaution.

Mr Barr added that the new case was further evidence of the importance of vaccines in fighting COVID-19.

“What this whole situation demonstrates though, is the absolute importance of vaccination and why it is so critical that more Canberrans, more NSW residents – more Australians get vaccinated,” he said.

“That’s what we need to focus on in addition to clearly, the public health measures that we have put in place this week.”

Mr Barr said those who lost shifts or work during the lockdown would have the opportunity to apply for financial support.

“The Prime Minister and the Treasurer were very supportive of those measurements being put in place … and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to enact the same arrangements that have applied for other states and territories,” he said.

“The further details in relation to those support packages, the COVID disaster package, the business supports … will be available on our COVID-19 website and through the various Commonwealth government websites, where an additional page or link will be provided for support for ACT residents and businesses.”

Hope lockdown will act as ‘circuit-breaker’

Kerryn Coleman speaks in front of ACT Government backdrop.
ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said they hoped to stop the virus with an immediate lockdown.(ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

As news emerged that panic-buying was taking place across the capital, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also urged Canberrans not to rush out to purchase supplies and to be “thoughtful” as they entered lockdown.

Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith said the lockdown announcement was made because the source of the infection was unknown, with genomic sequencing still underway.

“At this point in time we have no source, or no link for this case,” she said.

“This is one of the reasons why I have recommended and we are going into a lockdown for the next seven days.

“We will be conducting an intensive case investigation, looking back for the 14 days prior to when we thought he was exposed to see if we can identify where this has come from.”

She repeated Mr Barr’s message that people should stay home unless for essential reasons.

“Our message is, do not look for a loophole within those reasons, an excuse to leave your home,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“If in doubt, don’t do it unless it is absolutely essential.”

Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman added that they hoped the lockdown would act as a circuit breaker.

“The reason that we are locking down for seven days is because we have learnt lessons and we understand the nature of the virus now, and the rapidity and the risk of transmission,” Dr Coleman said.

“We’re not super people and we don’t have a crystal ball.”

Play Video. Duration: 9 seconds
Panic buying begins at supermarkets as the ACT approaches its lockdown deadline.(Courtesy: Tegan George)

Those with symptoms of COVID-19 have also been reminded to get tested, with a new testing clinic set to be open later today at Brindabella Business Park.

But Ms Stephen-Smith said people shouldn’t get a test simply because they were “anxious” about the virus, as it would only make wait times longer for those who were potentially infected.

Capacity and operating hours at the other testing sites — Weston Walk-In Centre and EPIC drive-through — will be “increased significantly”, the government said.

Federal parliament is currently sitting in the capital, but at a reduced capacity, and the building has not been open to the public for weeks.

Some NSW postcodes permitted to enter ACT

A group of police officers stand beside cars on a highway.
Police will be at the ACT border to check those travelling from NSW are permitted to enter Canberra.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

The whole of New South Wales has also been declared a COVID-19 affected area, and only those from approved postcodes in that state will be permitted to enter the ACT, and for essential reasons only.

Ms Stephen-Smith said ACT Policing would be at the border to ensure those entering Canberra were abiding by the rules.

NSW residents will be expected to provide proof of residential address and their reason for travelling to the ACT.

The postcodes permitted to enter the ACT are:

PostcodesIncluded cities, townships and areas
2581Gunning, Collector
2582Murrumbateman, Yass
2618Wallaroo, areas along the ACT’s north-western edge
2620Queanbeyan, Googong, Karabar, Sutton, Gundaroo
2623Captains Flat
2626Bredbo and Michelago

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