Sydneysiders travelling to the Northern Territory won’t have to undergo mandatory quarantine from next month if NSW continues keep COVID-19 transmission under control, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner says.

The Top End has now reached 28 days since their last active cases and the government will look to re-open to Sydney from October 9, but not Victoria yet.

A downward trend in new cases in NSW and superb testing had satisfied NT Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie it will soon be safe for Sydneysiders to enter the territory.

“We cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it. So, if something happens, if things change, if the trend goes back up in Sydney, we will not hesitate to keep their hot spot status in place for as long as we need to,” Mr Gunner said.

“But if they continue to make the progress they are making – as we expect they will – we can welcome Sydneysiders back to the Territory next month. This is about giving people, especially Territorians, as much notice as possible, and as much certainty as possible, in these uncertain times.”

The chief minister said Victoria had a long way to go before a similar relaxations of quarantine rules could occur, but he urged Territorians to check on the welfare of any family or friends living in that state.

Mr Gunner also said there was an issue with people using the NT as a backdoor to enter other states like Queensland.

He said it was costing money to subsidise people from COVID-19 hotspots using his government’s quarantine facilities at Howard Springs.

The chief minister urged people from southern states intending to quarantine in the NT to spend from time in the Territory before going to events like the AFL grand final in Brisbane,

“I can guarantee you, the Northern Territory is a whole lot more and a whole lot better than the village at Howard Springs. It’s the best place in the world,” Mr Gunner said.

“So, please stick around and enjoy it a while before you bugger off.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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