25 November 2020

Federal police and military deployed to quarantine repatriated Australians

| Michael Weaver
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ACT public health officers screen passengers at Canberra Airport

Public health officers Madeleine Kelly (left) and Illyria Tucker (right) screen Adelaide arrivals for COVID-19 at Canberra Airport last week. Photo: ACT Health.

Australian Federal Police and members of the Australian Defence Force will be deployed for the repatriation and quarantine of the first international passengers who will arrive in Canberra on a flight from Singapore on Thursday (26 November).

ACT Policing said it is working closely with the ACT Government to prepare for hotel quarantine for 150 returning Australians, while a number of requests have been made to the federal government for the use of specialist officers from the Australian Federal Police as well as military personnel from the Australian Defence Force.

Arrivals will also be closely monitored by ACT Health.

The hotel quarantine site is being kept under wraps and passengers flying into Canberra from overseas before Christmas will have to pay for their 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Health officials will conduct COVID-19 and other health screening checks on arrival and will test all passengers on day one and again between days 10 and 12.

COVID-safe signage at Canberra Airport

COVID-safe signage for travellers at Canberra Airport. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

An ACT Health spokesperson said after the learnings from other states and territories and the National Review into Hotel Quarantine, further measures were put in place to protect the ACT community.

This includes additional precautions such as ongoing surveillance of symptoms and regular testing of hotel staff and government employees in contact with returned travellers.

The ACT Health wellbeing team, including social workers and psychologists, will maintain regular contact with people in quarantine.

The shift of focus from home quarantine for people who have travelled from within Australia marks another step in the opening of borders in Victoria with NSW and the ACT, where people are no longer required to undergo mandatory quarantine.

ACT Policing’s COVID-19 Taskforce officer Detective Superintendent Matthew Heather said Canberra has a strong record of compliance with hotel and home quarantine.

“ACT Policing will be on hand at the quarantine facilities when incoming flights are confirmed, assisting ACT Health personnel,” Det Supt Heather said.

“The priority over the next few weeks will be the safety of Canberra’s residents and the care of Australians returning home via Canberra.

“We will also continue assisting businesses around the ACT with their compliance efforts.”

ACT Policing conducted 949 COVID-19 quarantine checks in the past week, bringing the total number to more than 19,200 during Canberra’s COVID-19 response.

While one person remains active with a case of COVID-19 in the ACT, chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said she was pleased to see restrictions on travel from Victoria to the ACT being lifted.

“It’s wonderful to have these restrictions on travel eased as we continue to adjust to a new COVID normal,” Dr Coleman said.

“I would like to thank everyone who sought an exemption and went into quarantine. Their action helped protect the ACT community while Victoria worked on bringing their COVID second wave under control.”

ACT Health met 100 flights and more than 3000 travellers during the cross-border restrictions. More than 4720 exemption applications were processed, including 1906 from ACT residents. More than 2500 people returning from Victoria quarantined in the ACT, including more than 1600 ACT residents.

“We hope the lifting of travel restrictions with Victoria will give people the confidence to make plans, book holidays and reunite with family members in the lead up to Christmas. It will be a boost for local business as we welcome more people from Victoria,” Dr Coleman said.

Due to recent concerns over COVID-19 cases in South Australia, ACT Health advises that people should only travel between the ACT and South Australia for essential purposes.

The most recent information on the ACT’s COVID-19 restrictions is on the COVID-19 website. You can also report non-compliance via the COVID-19 Helpline on 6207 7244 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm, seven days a week).

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

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