Stage 3 restrictions postponed

With a further confirmed COVID-19 case in the Territory today, the Chief Health Officer has advised the Government that tomorrow is not the time to proceed with further easing of restrictions.

Canberrans have done an outstanding job in recent months to stop the spread of the virus. This has allowed the ACT to begin easing restrictions very the past few months and for our city to start thinking about recovery.

As restrictions eased around the country, there was always a likelihood that the virus would return to the ACT. We are monitoring the outbreak in Melbourne on a daily basis and evaluating how it will impact the ACT.

Travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for people entering the ACT who have been in Victoria have been in place for nearly a week. Right now, there are 168 Canberrans quarantining either at home or in a hotel with ACT Police leading the ACT Government’s compliance and monitoring work.

Canberrans who have been to Melbourne in the past few weeks, especially those who have been to a hotspot, must stay at home and self-isolate. It is the one thing you can do to help keep our community safe. If you have any symptoms, get tested immediately.

Restriction easing has been postponed for at least two weeks. The Chief Health Officer will continue to assess the local situation and in surrounding NSW before consideration is given to further easing of restrictions.

This will be disappointing to many local businesses and organisations. It is frustrating for everyone and it will cause more stress for Canberrans who have been through a difficult period of time. It is the right decision at this time though.

As much as the Government wants to support the recovery of our economy, if the health advice says we shouldn’t move – then we won’t.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said that Canberrans are hearing the message of getting tested, helping ACT Health to monitor COVID-19 in the ACT.

“Testing numbers have significantly increased this week, with 625 negative tests in the past 24 hours. We expect this increase in numbers will continue as people are encouraged to get tested.

“We know this increase in testing has led to lengthy wait times at some of the Respiratory Assessment Clinics and we apologise for the inconvenience and thank people for their patience. We will be increasing capacity and resources for testing to meet this increase in demand in the next few days.

“We are also increasing capacity for ACT Pathology to provide people with their testing results as quickly as possible.

“We are urging Canberrans, particularly those who have been to Victoria recently, to get tested if you show even the mildest of symptoms.

“We know Canberrans are concerned about the return of the virus to the ACT. We have every confidence that the ACT is in a very good position to respond should we see an increase of cases.

“We have greater testing capacity, we have better systems in place, and we have more capacity in our health system to respond.

“What we really need now is for Canberrans to work with us and keep as safe as possible – maintain the 1.5 metre distance for those around you, wash your hands regularly and get tested if you are unwell,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

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