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Australia’s Northern Territory Declares 4-Day ‘Lockout’ for the Vaccine-Free

Published: January 7, 2022
Empty streets in Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced on Thursday a four-day lockout of the vaccine free after the territory recorded a record-high 256 new COVID-19 cases. The lock-out allows only essential shopping, seeing a medic, or providing care for someone, thereby ruling out going to work or working out. (Image: CHARLIE BLISS/Getty Images)

On Jan. 6, Australian Northern Territory (NT) Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, announced a four-day lockout for those not fully-vaccinated after the territory claimed a record-high 256 COVID-19 cases.

“The fully vaccinated continue as they were,” Gunner said at a press conference on Jan. 6, while adding, “For people who are not vaccinated, lockdown rules will apply to everyone 16 and above. If you are not fully vaxxed, stay home. You are a greater risk of catching COVID, becoming ill, and needing hospital care.”

The lockdown will start at 1 pm on Thursday and last until noon on Monday, Jan. 10, when the statewide vaccine passport goes into effect which applies only to those who haven’t received at least two jabs.

The conditions

“You may only leave home for three reasons: Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination. For essential goods and services like groceries, power tokens, medications; To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves,” Gunner said.

“There are only three reasons to leave the home now, not five. Work is not a reason to leave the home. For the unvaccinated, the chief health officer has also determined that restriction of movement is critical right now and that one hour of exercise for the next four days is not essential.” 

The lockdown essentially puts the unvaccinated under house arrest, regardless of the fact that the relatively small NT outbreak affected fully vaccinated individuals just as much as the unvaccinated.

Recent opening-up

The announcement came after, on Dec.20, the Territory reopened its frontiers for fully vaccinated interstate travelers. Travelers were no longer required to show evidence of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before traveling to the territory. 

Meanwhile, the fully-vaccinated communities of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland remain open while the virus is believed to still abound.

Gunner said that the unvaccinated population cannot go more than 30km (18 Miles) from their home, except for traveling to a hospital.

“You cannot travel more than 30 kilometers from your home when leaving for one of the three reasons or the nearest practical destination. If you need to go to the hospital and it’s more than 30 kilometers from your home, that’s OK,” Gunner said.

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“Remember, these restrictions only apply to those who are not fully vaccinated.” Gunner added. “The fully vaccinated are free to continue to go about their lives as long as they comply with the territory-wide mask mandate.” 

Meanwhile, Gunner tried to poach his subjects, implying that complying with the regulations comes with rewards, “Territorians love having a beer with their mates, and the overwhelming majority get to keep doing this. We want you to be as safe as possible while having a frothy or a feed,” he said. 

Vaccine pass

He also addressed the vaccine pass that would start on Jan. 10, stating that the pass will be needed to enter high-risk public places like pubs and clubs, casinos, restaurants, cinemas, ticketed events for over 500 people in urban centers, and events consisting of 100 people for non-urban centers.

The responsibility to check in sits with the proprietors of public places, but managers will be tasked with the burden of checking for proof of vaccination. 

“I know there are unvaccinated people who can be impolite, I have experienced that. I do not want our hard-working frontline workers to experience that,” Gunner said, adding, “If there are trouble makers who try to breach this direction – call the police.”

Solely NT inhabitants and essential workers will be admitted to the locked-down communities in the territory and must provide a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) on the day of arrival.

Gunner was previously lambasted for calling out vaccine-free citizens, telling them to “stuff it – shove it” during a press conference in November.