By ERWIN CHLANDA
Except for Simpson’s Gap, the West MacDonnells national park, declared a biosecurity area by the NT Government, will remain off limits although some NT restrictions brought in to combat COVID-19 will be relaxed from noon on May 1.
Despite several requests from the Alice Springs News, no explanation has been given by the government for why the declaration was made.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner, in a media release today, announced that the easing of measures are “for simple and safe outdoor activities where physical distancing can be maintained at all times”.
Real estate open house inspections and auctions, and gatherings in homes are also allowed.
Mr Gunner says stage two activities can commence from noon, Friday May 15, and include safer indoor activities for less than two hours, such as: Shopping centre food courts; restaurants, cafes, and bars for the consumption of food – excluding gaming areas; organised outdoor training activities for sport teams without physical contact; beauty therapy salons for non-facial services such as nails, massage and tanning; gymnasium; public libraries and places used for religious worship – including indoor weddings and funerals.
From noon, Friday June 5, the two-hour time limit will be removed and restrictions will be eased on further indoor activities, including officiating, participating and supporting the playing of team sports such as football, basketball, soccer and netball; TABs, and all licensed gaming venues; any cinema or theatre, concert hall, music hall, dance hall, nightclub or any other similar entertainment venue in approved configuration; previously restricted services at a place that provides beauty therapy, and/or cosmetic services including facial care; all businesses, facilities and services previously restricted can now resume ensuring adherence to key principles.
PHOTO at top: Mount Sonder.
UPDATE 8am May 1
We asked the Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture this morning: What is the reason for the closure of West MacDonnell National Park? If the answer is because it is a biosecurity area, please advise who declared it as such, and why.
UPDATE 10am May 1
The NT Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture has advised that the Australian Government implemented a determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015, prohibiting persons from entering “designated areas”.
In the Northern Territory designated areas include the local government areas of Central Desert and MacDonnell.
We are now seeking information about the mechanism of exclusions such as they occurred in the vicinity of Alice Springs but outside its municipal area.
This includes the eastern-most part of the West MacDonnells – Simpson’s Gap – which is is now open to visitors. Why does the remainder of the park remain closed?