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COVID-19 Q&A's

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Q&A's provide answers to frequently asked questions by the industry. 

If you are seeking information regarding travel in the Northern Territory including border restrictions, remote and community travel, call 1800 518 189. 

Easing of restrictions in the Northern Territory

What does this involve?

The Northern Territory Government has announced that the NT will end mandatory quarantine arrangements from 12:01am on Friday 17 July for interstate arrivals, other than persons arriving from a suburb or local government area that has been declared a Coronavirus hot spot.

Persons arriving to the NT from hot spot areas will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost. Mandatory supervised quarantine will be at the Howard Springs quarantine facility or another approved facility elsewhere in the Territory.

Hot spots will be identified by State or Territory Governments, or by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and listed on coronavirus.nt.gov.au

Based on the evidence, the NT Chief Health Officer recommended a 28-day assessment period before opening NT borders – which is two COVID-19 replication cycles.

All businesses are required to complete the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to ensure they are operating within physically distancing and hygiene guidelines. This includes businesses that have already reopened or remained open throughout.

What must I do in order for my business to re-open?

All businesses will need to complete the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist.

You may need to complete multiple forms dependant on which services you offer. 

Once you submit your checklist(s), you will immediately be emailed a summary of your submission which you can use/ display as an interim approval until you receive a statement of commitment. This may take up to 14 days.

An environmental health officer may visit you in the coming weeks to carry out a compliance check to ensure you are meeting your responsibilities as outlined in your COVID-19 Safety Plan checklist.

If you have already reopened, your business is still required to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan checklist.

Complete the COVID-19 Safety Plan checklist online: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/steps-to-restart/business

Arrivals in the NT

Are NT border restrictions still in place?

The Northern Territory Government has announced that the NT will end mandatory quarantine arrangements from 12:01am on Friday 17 July for all interstate arrivals, other than persons arriving from a suburb or local government area that has been declared a Coronavirus hot spot.

Persons arriving to the NT from hot spot areas will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost. Mandatory supervised quarantine will be at the Howard Springs quarantine facility or another approved facility elsewhere in the Territory.

Hot spots will be identified by State or Territory Governments, or by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and listed on coronavirus.nt.gov.au

Until 17 July, all travellers arriving to the Territory borders, including returning Territorians, must undertake 14 days self-quarantine. Persons arriving from interstate and not travelling from declared Coronavirus hot spots will be able to choose their own quarantine arrangements, as long as it is appropriate. Arrivals will be able to undertake the 14-day mandatory quarantine period in their own home, in private accommodation, or in appropriate commercial accommodation, at their own cost.

For more information, go to https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel/domestic-travel

When will NT border restrictions be lifted?

Interstate border restrictions will be removed from 12.01am Friday 17 July, other than for arrivals from a suburb or local government area that has been declared a Coronavirus hot spot. 

Hot spots will be identified by State or Territory Governments, or by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and listed on coronavirus.nt.gov.au

Based on the evidence, the NT Chief Health Officer recommended a 28-day assessment period before opening NT borders – which is two COVID-19 replication cycles.

Mandatory supervised quarantine for hot spot arrivals

When borders open to interstate travellers on 17 July, any arrivals from a suburb or local government area that has been declared a Coronavirus hot spot will be required to undertake mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Hot spots will be identified by State or Territory Governments, or by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and listed on coronavirus.nt.gov.au

Persons arriving to the NT from hot spot areas will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost. Mandatory supervised quarantine will be at the Howard Springs quarantine facility or another approved facility elsewhere in the Territory. The cost per person for supervised quarantine is $2500.

People who have been in hot spots will be monitored to ensure they comply with quarantine requirements. People in supervised quarantine will be subject to testing before exiting quarantine. If arrivals in mandatory quarantine refuse a test, there will be 10 days added to the quarantine time.

In addition to the information currently provided on the border arrival form, arrivals will be required to declare if they have been in, or travelled through, a hot spot within the last 28 days. Any person from interstate that lives in a hot spot area should be in lock down and therefore not travelling.
 
Making a false statement in a statutory declaration is an offence that carries significant penalties, including a fine and possible prison term of up to 3 years. 

There will be no travel exemptions given to people from hot spot areas.
 
This is an evolving situation and important update for travellers.

What areas are declared Coronavirus hot spots?

As of 26 June, the Chief Health Officer declared six Local Government Areas to be COVID-19 hot spots, noting the situation can evolve rapidly and information on hotspots will continue to be updated.
 
The following Local Government Areas are declared to be COVID-19 hotspots:
•    Brimbank VIC
•    Cardinia VIC
•    Casey VIC
•    Darebin VIC
•    Hume* VIC
•    Moreland VIC
 
*Note for Hume - The Chief Health Officer has confirmed that while the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport is located in the Hume Local Government Area, individuals entering the Hume Local Government Area for the sole purpose of accessing the airport or by virtue of a flight transiting through the airport are not considered to have been in the hotspot. However, individuals who leave the airport and go out into the local government area would be classified as having been in a hotspot whilst the area the airport is located remains a hotspot.

Mandatory self-quarantine rules

Mandatory self-quarantine rules will apply for all interstate arrivals until 17 July, other than persons arriving from declared coronavirus hot spots.
 
All people seeking to enter the NT must fill in a Border Arrival Form. This form is available online at coronavirus.nt.gov.au and at border access points.
 
People arriving in the NT from places not declared coronavirus hot spots will be able to undertake the 14-day quarantine period in their own home, such as an apartment, unit or house; staff accommodation; self-contained caravan; or at commercial accommodation, including hotels, hostels and caravan parks at their own cost.
 
The 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine can be undertaken at a suitable place of their choice in a regional centre:

  • Municipalities of Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield
  • Towns of Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek
  • Townsite of Nhulunbuy.

Arrivals cannot quarantine in a tent, campground, or in dormitory accommodation where space is shared with strangers.
 
Bush camp sites, roadside stops, rest areas and national parks are not suitable for self-quarantine. Roadhouse stops offering accommodation facilities along the highway are not suitable for self-quarantine. 
 
Visitors must make reasonable steps to travel as directly as possible to their self-quarantine location in a regional centre, unless it is detailed in their travel plan that they need to take a rest stop at a non-regional centre e.g. Mataranka. 
 
People must arrive at their designated quarantine address within 48 hours of arrival. NT arrivals must travel directly to their nominated location for self quarantine and remain in their place of quarantine for 14 days, beginning on the day of arrival and ending at midday on the fourteenth day after arrival.
 
Only people that occupy the household are permitted to be in the home or place of self-quarantine and visitors are not to enter the place of quarantine. People in self-quarantine cannot visit common areas within an apartment or unit complex including a gymnasium, garden, pool or common recreation areas. Couples and families may self-quarantine together.  
 
It is an offence not to comply with these directions.

I’m a Territorian returning to the Territory – can I quarantine at my home?

Territorians returning to the Territory can quarantine in their own home if they are able to comply with all the self-quarantine requirements and are not returning from a declared Coronavirus hot spot.

Persons arriving to the NT from hot spot areas will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost.

Can an interstate visitor quarantine at my caravan park in their camper van?

People arriving in the NT - excluding persons arriving from declared coronavirus hot spots - will be able to undertake the 14-day quarantine period in commercial accommodation at caravan parks at their own cost. Visitors must not interact with unknown people or groups during the 14 day self‐quarantine period.

Visitors can use the communal bathroom but not the laundry or kitchen, and should use hand sanitiser or wash hands with soap and water before touching shared items. It is also recommended shared surfaces are wiped down with anti‐bacterial wipes after use.

Domestic and International Travel

Can I still travel domestically?

Until 17 July, all travellers arriving to the Territory borders, including returning Territorians, must undertake 14 days self-quarantine.

Any arrivals from a suburb or local government area that has been declared a coronavirus hot spot will be required to undertake mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days. Hot spots will be identified by State or Territory Governments, or by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and listed on coronavirus.nt.gov.au

Persons arriving to the NT from hot spot areas will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost.

Persons arriving from interstate areas not declared a coronavirus hot spot are able to choose their own mandatory self-quarantine arrangements, as long as it is appropriate. 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.
 
In addition to the information currently provided on the border arrival form, all arrivals to the NT will be required to declare if they have been in, or travelled through, a hot spot within the last 28 days. Any person from interstate that lives in a hot spot area should be in lock down and therefore not travelling.

For more information, go to https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel/domestic-travel

Can I travel internationally?

There is a ban on Australians travelling overseas, implemented on 25 March.

Mandatory supervised quarantine will continue for international arrivals for the foreseeable future. Persons arriving to the NT will be required to undertake mandatory enforced quarantine at a Territory Government approved facility at their own cost.

What is the contact number for travel enquiries?

Call 1800 518 189 if you are seeking information regarding travel in the Northern Territory including border restrictions, remote and community travel.

Intra-Territory Travel

Can I travel within the Territory?

Yes, the internal biosecurity zone controls were lifted 5 June 2020. 

Are Uluru and Kakadu open?

Parks Australia have confirmed that Kakadu National Park and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will reopen in a staged manner from 19 June.

For more details, go to https://parksaustralia.gov.au/

Business Support

I have questions about the support available for my business

Call the Business Enterprise Centre NT on 08 8923 6133

Call the Chamber of Commerce NT COVID-19 business support hotline on 08 8982 8188

Advice for Operators

General enquiries relating to your business

For questions specific to your business, contact the NT Government's business hotline 1800 193 111 from 8am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Are operators able to recommence tours?

Yes, providing a COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist has been completed. 

A tour operator should collect information, via booking system or similar, to assist health authorities with contact tracing if and when required. This should include (but not limited to):

  • Tour event details, locations, times and dates
  • The ability to collect and record contact details for all passengers (including names, phone numbers and an appropriate address)
  • Information to participants on the COVID-19 safety plan arrangements

 

Are operators responsible if guests don’t adhere to physical distancing?

Tour operators must abide by all rules for the duration of their service. 

A tour operator should, during tours:

  • Encourage participants to maintain 1.5 metres distance from others not known to them
  • Arrange seating so passengers of different booking groups are not seated face-to-face
  • Encourage persons from your tour group to maintain 1.5 metres apart from other tour groups
  • Where possible, place markings on the floor of the premises to indicate 1.5m spacing where participants may queue (for example, at the entrance, bathrooms or service area)
  • At the entry and exit points of the tour vehicles / vessels or buildings encourage participants to queue 1.5 metres apart
  • Ensure staff and passengers are aware of the maximum capacity of persons on vehicles / vessels that will allow for people and groups to maintain physical distancing
  • Place signage around the tour vehicle / vessel to discourage participants crowding together in any one area 
  • Encourage tour groups to remain 1.5 metres apart when moving around a vessel or on guided tour
  • If there are times where participants need to be closer than 1.5 metres apart, ensure the time spent in close contact to less than 15 minutes.
Can my business be fined for not adhering to physical distancing directions?

Infringement notices will be issued if there is a persistent failure to comply with the new rules. 

Can I refuse service to guests / customers if they appear to be sick?

You have the right to ask visitors, guests and customers to provide information in advance about whether they have flu-like symptoms, have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have travelled internationally in the last 14 days.

Are there any special restrictions/exemptions around sleeping arrangements for motherships etc?

In situations where using separate rooms are not available, beds should be kept 2m apart with temporary barriers between beds (such as curtains) for those who are not known to each other. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, dishes and bedding.

Visas

Can I temporarily move a sponsored employee to work in a different occupation or make changes to the work duties during COVID-19?

Temporary sponsored employees (i.e. holders of subclass 457 and Temporary Skill Shortage Visa subclass 482) have conditions on their visas requiring them to be employed with their sponsoring employer in the nominated occupation. 

Breach of these conditions can lead to visa cancellation, and can also place the business in breach of its sponsorship obligations. 

However, taking adverse actions against visa holders and/or employers for breach is discretionary on the Department of Home Affairs, and all circumstances will be taken into account in making such decisions. 

My sponsored overseas employees cannot return to work due to travel restrictions, what are my obligations? 

If you opt to keep the positions for your employees open, you can do so. The employees will not be in breach of conditions if they are on approved paid or unpaid leave, provided that any such leave does not exceed 12 months.

If the visa holders are no longer employed by your business, you should notify the Department of Home Affairs in writing. 

I have had to lay off sponsored employees due to the COVID-19 crisis. What will happen to their visas?

Temporary sponsored visa holders will technically be in breach of visa conditions if they are not employed with their sponsoring business for more than 60 days and this can lead to visa cancellation. However, if they are on approved leave with or without pay, they will generally not be in breach, provided that the leave does not exceed 12 months. Cancelling visas for breach is discretionary on the Department of Home Affairs and all circumstances will be taken into account in making such decisions.

Are visa holders who have lost jobs due eligible for any welfare support?

Visa holders who are on permanent visas (e.g. holders of Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme subclass 187, permanent skilled Nominated Visa subclass 190) are eligible for Centrelink payments such as the Job Seeker Allowance. The normal waiting period of 4 years to qualify will be waived for some payments. 

Unfortunately at this stage, there is no welfare support available for temporary visa holders. 

Visa holders who wish to seek alternative employment can register themselves on the Territory Jobs Hub, which can be accessed via cited.com.au/territory-jobs-hub/. 

For specific migration queries in relation to your migrant workforce, please contact the MigrationNT team direct on either Tel: 89995264 or email [email protected]

What Tourism NT is doing

What is Tourism NT doing?

The most important thing we can do right now, is to assist our industry to access the range of business support packages made available for them.

We have launched an intra-Territory campaign to encourage locals to get out and enjoy their backyard while supporting local tourism operators. 

The ‘Time to be a Territorian’ campaign will showcase the Territory’s unique experiences that we often take for granted while highlighting what Territorians do best - support each other.

The intra-Territory campaign is the first step in a planned marketing approach which will be launched in stages as further restrictions are eased, enabling tourism businesses to sustainably start to open their doors, with the next steps being to build tourism demand across the country ensuring that the Territory’s tourism industry can fully recover as soon as border restrictions allow travel to resume. We are also working hard in coordination with Tourism Australia, the domestic travel trade, our interstate media and international trade partners to ensure the Territory is ready for the recovery phase, by continuing to build demand and then be back in market driving crucial bookings as soon as we're able.

What about the business events sector? PCOs, event management, exhibition?

Northern Territory Business Events (NTBE) is actively working with domestic and international business events planners to encourage postponement of confirmed business events, rather than cancel, to ensure the NT business events sector will benefit, once the market recovers. Whilst the situation is continually evolving, this forms a critical part of NTBE’s forward planning to ensure volume visitation into the Territory, at a time when it will be most needed by the local business events sector.

Contacts

I have questions about the support available for my business

Call the Business Enterprise Centre NT on 08 8923 6133

Call the Chamber of Commerce hotline on 08 8982 8188

I have questions about gatherings or events

Call the gatherings and events hotline on 1800 518 055

I need to arrange COVID-19 testing

Call the NT hotline on 1800 008 002.

If you live in Darwin and need to arrange testing, call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044.

Page last updated on 06 July 2020