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The designated biosecurity areas in the Northern Territory will be lifted on 5 June 2020. 

The designated biosecurity area of East Arnhem (including the towns of Nhulunbuy and Alyangula) has been in place since 11:59pm on 26 March 2020. The decision to lift the designated biosecurity area and the travel restrictions associated with it was made by the Commonwealth Minister for Health, with input from health experts, Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government.

From Monday, 15 June, the Northern Territory will transition from mandatory, monitored quarantine to mandatory, self-quarantine.

Read more under interstate access

Overview

Biosecurity Area Information

What does this mean for travel into East Arnhem from within the Northern Territory?

This change means that from 5 June 2020, it will no longer be necessary to quarantine for 14 days prior to entering the designated biosecurity area (if you are already inside the NT, e.g. Darwin, Katherine etc). It also means that from 5 June there will no longer be a requirement for Approved Remote Essential Worker certificates/cards to enter the designated area.

However, there are still travel restrictions in place for people entering the Northern Territory from interstate and overseas. There is currently no indication as to when the Northern Territory border's will open to travellers from interstate.

What does this mean for travel within the East Arnhem (Yolngu) region? 

Travel beyond Nhulunbuy is still determined by the Northern Land Council. The current requirements focus on making sure essential services and supplies continue to remote communities and homelands. We are seeking further information on whether the restriction of travel to essential workers will continue and we will provide advice about that as soon as possible. If travelling within the East Arnhem region, you must have a valid Land Council permit and carry your permit with you at all times. This requirement also applies if you are in transit (for example, if you travel out on the Central Arnhem Road you must have a Northern Land Council permit) or are visiting are recreation area (if you go to a Dhimurru recreation area you need a permit from Dhimurru).

What does this mean for travel within the East Arnhem (Anindilyakwa) region?

The Anindilyakwa Land Council has indicated that it will retain the Groote Archipelago & Community Access Permit, and that all non-Traditional Owner visitors and residents will require this permit to travel to the Groote Archipelago.

The ALC will be updating the requirements of these permits so that two-week quarantine before travelling will not be required from 5 June 2020, and that those in possession of a Groote Archipelago and Community Access Permit can travel freely around the Northern Territory without voiding their permit.

Can the designated biosecurity areas be put back in place?

The short answer is, yes.

The Commonwealth Minister for Health has a wide range of powers, including to designated areas and restrict travel. Those powers are given to the Minister under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) and activated when the Governor-General declares a human biosecurity emergency.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor-General first declared a human biosecurity emergency on 18 March 2020 for three months. On Friday 15 May, the declaration was extended by a further three months, meaning that the Minister’s powers under the Biosecurity Act will continue until 17 September 2020.

The type of instrument that created designated areas in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia is a Determination by the Minister for Health, using his emergency powers. That is an important protection, because it means that if the risks surrounding COVID-19 in Darwin and other regional centres increases, the Minister could consult with Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government to re-introduce designated biosecurity areas to keep people safe.

 

For travel prior to 5 June 2020

If you intend to enter a designated biosecurity area, you will need to fill in the designated area compliance form at a biosecurity check point and provide appropriate documents and evidence, as outlined below.

People cannot enter 'designated areas' except in the following circumstances:

  • you are able to complete the traveller health information on the designated area compliance form and:
    • you are an approved remote essential area worker (and hold an approved remote area workers (AREW) ID card) or
    • have an exemption from an authorised person (and can provide evidence of this exemption at the checkpoint) or
    • you are a resident within the designated area, and can provide evidence to prove you have completed 14 days quarantine.

If you cannot provide the required evidence, you will not be allowed to enter the designated area.

How do I self-quarantine?

Useful information is available to support you to self-quarantine. There is an Australian Government COVID-19 app for Android and Apple devices where you can register your quarantine.

We understand that many people are interested in understanding how to prove that they have been observing quarantine requirements. Appropriate processes for this are currently being developed and we will share them as soon as they are available. In the meantime, at the minimum, download the mobile app and register your quarantine arrangements if you are required to quarantine. Police checks will be conducted.  

What if I am coming from interstate to the Gove airport?

If you are travelling on an interstate flight to Nhulunbuy (that is, from Cairns to Gove), you will be required to serve an additional two weeks quarantine once you arrive in Nhulunbuy. When you arrive at the airport, you will be required to confirm that you understand the requirements to self-quarantine and confirm the address at which you will be completing your 14 day self-quarantine period. Interstate or domestic travel requirements are detailed here.

Will I be forced to quarantine?

Forced quarantine applies to all people entering the Northern Territory unless exempt until Monday, 15 June 2020. After 15 June, interstate travellers will be required to self quarantine for two weeks rather and undergo mandatory COVID-19 tests during their quarantine. 

How is the requirement to self-quarantine being enforced?

NT Police and the Centre for Disease Control are responsible for monitoring compliance of those individuals who are required to self-quarantine. If you witness non-compliant behaviour by a person who is required to be self-quarantining, please call 131 444.

What if I still have questions about my travel?

For specific advice about your circumstances please call the Remote Travel Hotline on 1800 518 189.

Non-Yolngu people are not permitted to move outside the township of Nhulunbuy without a Dhimurru permit and/or and NLC permit. Only Approved Remote Essential Workers, with a valid NLC permit, can travel to the remote communities and homelands.

What if I am an essential worker coming from interstate?

In addition to the requirements above for an AREW, if you are coming from interstate you will need to apply for an exemption from border controls so that you can perform your essential service as soon as you arrive, without the need to self-quarantine.

Where can I see the biosecurity areas on the Northern Territory?

A map of designated biosecurity areas is available here.

Interstate Travel

From Monday, 15 June, the Northern Territory will transition from mandatory, monitored quarantine to mandatory, self-quarantine.

  • Arrivals from interstate will be able to choose their own quarantine arrangements – as long as it is appropriate, within the guidelines directed by the Chief Health Officer.
  • Arrivals will not have to stay at accommodation selected and secured by the NT Government, and the $2500 quarantine fee will no longer apply.  

Arrivals will be able to undertake the 14-day quarantine period in their own home, in private accommodation, or in appropriate commercial accommodation, at their own cost.

This change will not apply to people arriving from overseas, including overseas arrivals transiting from interstate.

Monitored quarantine will continue to apply for this cohort, given the much higher risk associated with international arrivals.

This new arrangement will also include mandatory coronavirus testing regime for all arrivals going into quarantine.

  • Arrivals will be tested for COVID-19 in the first 72 hours of their quarantine, and tested again in the final 72 hours of their quarantine.
  • Ending their quarantine after 14 days will depend on returning two negative tests.

Travellers seeking exemptions from self quarantine may apply to the Chief Health Officer for exemptions. Please note that processing these applications for exemptions takes some time and there is no guarantee that an exemption will be granted. We therefore encourage you to apply well in advance, if you do plan to seek an exemption.

Aviation services

The Northern Territory Government is supporting aviation companies to provide Scheduled Essential Air Services 2020 for the delivery of critical freight and essential personnel to Northern Territory remote communities during the COVID‐19 pandemic.  

The Airnorth services below will be running from 1 May 2020 for a 6-week period:

Route Per week
Darwin - Gove - Cairns - Gove - Darwin 2
Darwin - Gove - Groote Eylandt - Darwin 3
Darwin - Groote Eylandt - Darwin 2
Darwin - Milingimbi - Maningrida - Darwin 3
Darwin - Elcho Island - Maningrida - Darwin 3
Darwin - Gove - Darwin 1

 

For more information please click here.

Road Access

The Northern Land Council suspended all existing permits to Aboriginal communities for non-essential travel, this includes permits for transit to and from Nhulunbuy via the Central Arnhem Road.

If you previously held a Northern Land Council permit to travel the Central Arnhem Road, or any other road into East Arnhem Land, you should reapply for a permit for travel after 5 June 2020. 

Remote Essential Workers

If you deliver an essential service within the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area, you may apply for status as an Approved Remote Essential Worker (AREW).

How do I apply to become an AREW?

To receive AREW status you will need to do the following: 

1. Get a travel declaration from the Northern Land Council if travelling to East Arnhem Land (ex. Groote Eylandt) or from the Anindilyakwa Land Council if travelling to Groote Eylandt (including Bickerton Island).

2. Supply photo ID

3. Complete the following form

For more information about the application process, visit coronavirus.nt.gov.au

How long does the AREW application process take?

At this stage, please allow at least 5 business days to process your AREW. If your application for an AREW is urgent, please ensure that you cc This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. when you submit your application.

I am already within the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area – do I need an AREW to travel within it?

If you are a non-Yolŋu person who delivers an essential service in remote communities, even if you do not move outside of Nhulunbuy you will need an AREW, which you may obtain using the process above. Non-Yolŋu people are not permitted to move outside the township of Nhulunbuy without a Dhimurru permit and/or and NLC permit. Only Approved Remote Essential Workers, with a valid NLC permit, can travel to the remote communities and homelands.

What if I am an essential worker coming from interstate?

In addition to the requirements above for an AREW, if you are coming from interstate you will need to apply for an exemption from border controls so that you can perform your essential service as soon as you arrive, without the need to self-quarantine.

How do I prepare a COVID-19 plan for my organisation or myself?

In advance of specific Northern Territory Government advice on COVID-19 plan (also called a ‘pandemic plan’) requirements, Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL) has developed guidance material to assist you in preparing your plan. This is available to downloadn the DEAL COVID-19 business update hub. DEAL is also able to support businesses which need further assistance in developing COVID-19/pandemic plans or on other COVID-19 matters such as business continuity planning.