Macs stay closed while other COVID restrictions come down


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”.

This includes: Personal gatherings including outdoor weddings and funerals; playgrounds, parks and campgrounds outside biosecurity areas; public swimming pools, lagoons and water parks; outdoor sports where physical distancing can be maintained including golf and tennis as well as training outdoors; fishing, boating, and sailing with other people.
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?


  1. Watched the press conference. A joyous presentation to Territorians who apparently live only in the Darwin area.
    Fishing camping swimming, markets.
    Not a word about Central Australia.
    I could drive up the Ross Highway to Trephina or Arltunga and pass two outstations and a couple of dozen cows but I can’t.
    Yet this weekend Darwin residents will be trooping out of town to their parks. Makes no sense.

  2. Something fishy going on.
    When the Intervention was imposed on Prescribed Areas, recreational fishermen were exempted from the restrictions.
    @ Litmus: I too saw the joyous press conference and noticed the Chief Minister emphasised with what I suppose he thought was a vote winning grin that Territorians could again go fishing.
    I think you’re being a bit unfair though. It isn’t Nigel Scullion and Michael Gunner’s fault Central Australia has no fishing spots.

  3. I hope Mr Gunner has got it right, we are the first in Australia to do this and we are coming into the flu season in the NT.
    It only takes one infection to set it off again. If it gets in to Darwin and Alice Springs or Aboriginal communities it will be a major disaster.
    Order Body Bags by the hundreds.
    Mr Gunner is going out on a limb here. I hope we do not pay his price.

  4. Gunner has one eye on the election too: Stage 1 restrictions lifted on the Friday before a long weekend. Same with stage 3 restrictions.

  5. Easing of restrictions is overdue. Typical of the NT Government – they lack the capacity for leadership. They instead follow.
    Closing things down may be seen by some as strong leadership, but others see it as easy and being ruled by fear.
    It was far easier to take a hard line and close things than it is to now try and open things up.
    “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” – Patrick Henry.

  6. And again a fine example how little this government (and the ones before it) is caring about Central Australia. To them NT = Darwin and that’s it.

  7. Remote Indigenous residents are very frustrated and want to come to town but are still locked down.
    That is a good thing for everyone.
    We are asking a lot of them.
    Locked down while the rest of us frolic in the West MacDonnells national park?
    That’s why and also explains why we can’t be told.

  8. Areas excluded from designated areas include pastoral lease – isn’t it pastoral lease all the way to the SA border?
    Why then are people being told they cannot go to Stuarts Well, or Erldunda etc?
    They also say the major highways are open, but the police will say otherwise when you are stopped near the gaol as part of their “awareness campaign”.


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