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Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has confirmed the Top End borders will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers on December 20, as the territory recorded three new cases of COVID-19.

But travelers will need to take COVID-19 tests on days three and six and provide proof of a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of departure.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner.Credit:Alex ellinghausen

Two of the three COVID-19 cases reported in NT today were in travelers, while the third case was an unvaccinated teenager who is a family contact of a previous case. She was transferred to the quarantine facility at the Center for National Resilience.

A fully vaccinated woman in her 80s who is close contact with a COVID-positive woman who has arrived in London’s Top End has tested positive for the virus in home quarantine. The two women are now at the Center for National Resilience.

A fully vaccinated man from Sydney who has recently been abroad also tested positive for the virus at the airport using a rapid antigen test. A PCR test subsequently confirmed this result. He’s in the Howard Springs Quarantine Center.

Mr Gunner said the government was concerned about some unvaccinated households in Katherine, and that there would be an intensive COVID testing area in that region.

Mr Gunner confirmed today that the territory will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from December 20.

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Arrivals will still need to take a COVID test 72 hours before arrival and complete two tests once they arrive in the Top End, Mr Gunner said, and “no one gets a free pass.”

The second test must be taken 72 hours after arrival and another test must be taken on the sixth day.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or New Years Day,” Gunner said.

Travelers should also stay in Greater Darwin, Alice Springs and Darwin for the first 14 days of their stay, to prevent the virus from spreading to remote communities. Mr Gunner said these communities remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison congratulated the Northern Territory today after achieving an 80% vaccination rate for residents aged 16 and over.

But some remote communities lag behind that figure and have populations younger than the national average. The Doherty Institute has advised that children aged 5 and older in these communities should also be vaccinated against COVID-19 before restrictions in these areas can be safely relaxed.


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