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Friday, December 1, 2023

Two more weeks for ACT restrictions

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

Chief Minister, Andrew Barr said Canberrans had 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,” Mr Barr said.

“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.”

Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith said Canberrans were 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,” said Ms Stephen-Smith.

“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.

“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.”

Mr Barr said the easing of restrictions was now 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.”

The Health Minister said Canberrans could rest assured the Territory had greater testing capacity, better systems in place, and more capacity in its health system to respond to outbreaks.

“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 Ms Stephen-Smith.

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