NT closing borders to interstate arrivals


Last updated 6pm, see at bottom.
In response to the increasing threat of the coronavirus from 4pm Tuesday 24 March, the Northern Territory will implement strict border controls for all access points – by road, rail, air and sea.
From that time, people who arrive in the Northern Territory from interstate will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
This will be enacted through a formal declaration by the Chief Health Officer under the Public and Environmental Health Act.
There will be exemptions to the quarantine period requirement: including health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight – with strict guidelines in place to monitor and manage this.
Arrivals will have to show they meet the essential arrival criteria to be granted an exemption.
There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds.
We will be consulting with essential resources industries to make sure their workforce requirements can be met while guaranteeing community safety for this period.
More information will be provided in the coming days about exemptions, the process for applying, as well the processes that will be implemented at our borders.
This will not impact the delivery of essential goods and services. Food and freight will continue. Our supermarkets and stores will be stocked.
UPDATE 6.00pm:
A media release from NT Tourism provides a bit more detail on what will happen at the borders:

  • all non-essential travellers arriving at the Territory borders will be required to go through a police control checkpoint to verify their medical status and purpose of their travel into the Territory.  


  • They will also be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, with penalties for those who do not comply. The operational details of how the check points will operate are being worked through by Police.


  • All arrivals including Territory residents will be screened and, if deemed a non-essential visitor, would be told to quarantine themselves. Territory Police and the Public Health Unit will ensure compliance and help people access support where needed.

Says Andrew Hopper, Acting  CEO:


“There is no doubt the closing of the NT Borders will have a detrimental effect on the tourism economy, with many local operators impacted.


“Right now, the Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture is continuing to work with the NT Department of Trade, Business and Innovation to draw together the range of business support initiatives to assist the tourism and related industries.


“Full details of the Northern Territory Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan will be released from Friday 27 March. There is no time as important as now, to buy local. 


“A reassessment of the Tourism NT marketing program is underway. The team is also contacting trade partners to ensure they understand the changes to be in place from Tuesday 24 March.


“The NT Government has confirmed this will not affect lawful trade or commerce, essential activities will not be impacted, and the supply chain will continue. The measures are put in place to help slow the spread of the virus in the Territory.”

The release also details the exemptions:

  • People involved in National and State Security and Governance.
  • Active Military personnel required to be on duty in the Territory while in the Territory.
  • A member of the Commonwealth Parliament who is ordinarily resident in the Territory. 
  • Health service providers and personnel.
  • Some transport, freight and logistics.
  • Specialist skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses or infrastructure.
  • Emergency services.
  • Other individuals or groups will be able to apply for an exemption to the Chief Health Officer, for instance visiting a terminally ill relative or medical grounds or interstate travel for essential medical treatment.



  1. A welcome move but not if we become complacent.
    Will the thinking be that we are safe because the borders are closed?
    That would be folly.
    We can delay but not prevent widespread infection.
    In the extra time we have given ourselves strong action is essential.
    The movement of people between town and Aboriginal communities must be stopped or at least dramatically curtailed.
    The Bush Bus must be shut down.
    The casino must be closed.
    Aboriginal students from communities must stay on their campuses.
    Our hospital should be doubling its ICU beds and buying more respirators to treat the severely ill.
    This is the time to prepare so our health services are not overwhelmed when the virus gets here.

  2. Yippee I’m glad the government has closed boarders.
    I agree with Peter we cannot become complacent, those people who coming in who are told to self isolate should be monitored.

  3. Definitely a step in the right direction, but some clarity please:
    “… will be required to quarantine for 14 days”, nice, so does a bus take them to a quarantine centre where they will be supported through this 14 days with shelter, food and water or perhaps are at least issued with a ration pack with food and water to last 14 days then taken to their chosen shelter ?
    Or are they then left to their own devices to catch a taxi and go to the shops for food etc?

  4. Close the casino, yes.
    Government needs to get more serious close the pubs and roadhouses that sell grog because people will still travel to get grog.
    Apparently drinkers have been told about the virus pandemic but are not listening.
    Also, the governments needs to put a holt to the arrival of 2,500 US Marines due to arrive in the NT next month.
    Get tough, all of our people and country comes first.

  5. Alice Springs bottle shops need to be closed this week.
    When the money from the government stimulus package hits the bank accounts of alcoholics it may create problems.
    Alcohol addiction is a health condition and government needs to prepare to keep alcoholics safe.

  6. I have many FaceBook friends on Aboriginal communities.
    One important topic: sick relatives and plans to visit them at the hospital.
    And lots of posts from people in town reporting on the health of relatives.
    At any time 100 Aboriginal people or more, many from remote communities, are at the hospital.
    It is always crowded with people in close contact.
    So what will happen when COVID-19 gets here?
    If nothing changes the hospital will be a major source of infection for people from remote communities.
    They will take the virus home with them and many people will die.
    Restrictions must be put in place immediately.
    The lesson of Italy (800 deaths on Saturday) is that we have to stay a jump ahead of the virus.
    Now is the time to act.

  7. My faith in our Chief Minister has just been elevated.
    My four children like Mr Gunner.
    I am up in Tennant Creek where adults and children both learned to make hard decisions sometimes.
    After seeking the best advice possible he has taken a huge step that will anger many, but will, I believe, save many infections and lives.
    We should be proud to have a leader who can call it as it is and not worry about popularity.
    Long may he reign over the NT.

  8. @ Sam: The Chief Minister has been playing catch up when he should have shown leadership.
    Here in the NT there are many vulnerable Aboriginal people with underlying health problems.
    They must be protected.
    The CM has to do more than interstate, just doing the same is not good enough.
    In Italy after 670 deaths yesterday all internal travel has been stopped.
    That’s the sort of measure needed in the Territory.
    The flow of people between communities and town has to be stopped or at least dramatically slowed.

  9. Re: Peter Posted March 22, 2020 at 8:01pm.
    Hospitals may need restrict face to face visits to reduce cross-infections.
    Those with mobiles already can use video-links.
    Perhaps hospital can provide a small video-conference room for each ward so available at arranged times for staff and/or patients to be able to video-conference.
    This is suggested to aged care services facing restriction on visits to residents.

  10. When I first lobbed in the Alice in ’67 I was told about the Berrimah Line but thought it was just local urban myth.
    Then in ’68 I was sent to do a six week training course in Aboriginal Training Allowances in NTA Darwin.
    Strewth. The Berrimah Line in full force.
    The Darwin Snobs thought us Alicians and everyone south of Berrimah were something on the bottom of their thongs.
    I imagine it is still alive and well. If so, I reckon they should set up border control 1km south of Berrimah.
    Stop the contagion of Darwin virus. Just kidding.
    Some of me best mates went to Darwin. Lost forever in the Big Smoke North of the Berrimah Line.

  11. The government hasn’t closed the borders. They have said you need to promise to self isolate for 14 days. So that they know you’ll be good and honest citizens, they will put an ankle bracelet on you just to make sure you are behaving. (How the hell can they guarantee people will stay put?)
    If you are naughty they won’t put you in the clink due to the risk on cross contamination but you may have to pay up to $62,000 fine. If you don’t pay, we’ll just say you’re a bad person, coz remember they can’t put you in the clink.
    So, they really needed to shut the borders, possibly too late now though. No One in!
    The pollies clearly think the virus is quite smart, in that it knows if you have an exemption card or are carrying goods for the greater good of mankind, so it won’t pounce on you. (I may have missed the bit about these people being regularly tested though.)
    The feds should have banned ALL incoming people over 3 weeks ago.
    As Darwin has reported cases, stop ALL exits from Darwin, we don’t want it here.
    One other stupid aspect of the early actions was the blah blah about Australian residents and coming home. This is what you do when there are war acts, not a pandemic!
    Personally I think there is too much hype. 25,000 die from starvation every day but we don’t even consider them.
    This is a flu, people may catch it, the people with poor immune systems may get pneumonia and some will die.
    We cut back on opening hours to minimise something without even thinking that when we do open, people will come en masse and increase the risk of cross contamination!
    Come on people, put your brain in gear, coordinate our efforts and leave me some dunny paper please.
    Yep, sure be cautious but leave some dunny paper on the shelf.

  12. @Surprised!
    There are features we already know about the coronavirus that distinguish it from the flu.
    The ABC’s Health and Wellbeing offers a clear explainer here.
    Some of the salient points:
    •The new coronavirus is about twice as contagious as influenza.
    •It is about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is already estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people globally every year.
    •Unlike the flu, for which we have anti-viral medicines and vaccines, there are currently no licensed vaccines or drugs for COVID-19.
    This is why, if left uncontained, the new coronavirus would overwhelm our health system, which is what the social controls, imperfect as they may be, are seeking to avoid.
    Kieran Finnane, senior writer, moderator

  13. @ Kieran Finnane: Kieran points noted. It is however a flu and people will continue to die as happens. Whilst we have vaccines for current strains we do not have for new ones, not only this one.
    Relying on people self isolating is a pipe dream. A lot of people won’t obey the current simple everyday laws now, so when it comes to their wellbeing, I suggest we have no hope.
    My point really is that if the government is serious about isolation, then any city or town where there is a case, should be isolated. That means nobody in or out for whatever the safe period is determined to be.
    My understanding is that Darwin only got its first case from someone flying from Sydney.
    We seem unaffected at the moment but continuing to allow people in and out of Alice and expecting them to self isolate is very naive and puts us all at great risk.
    As viruses are very good at mutation, we better hope it doesn’t adapt and infect animals.

  14. Hi there. Can anyone tell me what I should do?
    Actually I’m leaving Sydney in May because my class will commence from May and I am going to drive all alone.
    I also heard that whoever is coming from anywhere they have to pay $2500 which I can’t.
    Can anyone tell me what should I do or from where should I get the legit information?
    [ED – Try SecureNT and good luck!]

  15. We have been in NSW almost 12 months due to me partner woking here. We live in Darwin, have a house in Darwin. My partner lost his job. Now we need to come back home.
    My question is: We have two cars, a caravan and a dog.
    What forms do we need to cross the border? And can we self isolate in our caravan once we crossed the boarder?
    Not to mention we have SA border to cross as well.
    I’m so scared and unsure of what to do. Just want to go back home.
    Can anyone please help with my questions? Thank you.


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