(See Update at the bottom of this report.)
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Who gets free accommodation for mandatory quarantine, normally costing $2500 according to Chief Minister Michael Gunner, in the new The Ross facility (pictured)?
Will visitors from Victoria?
We put that question marked “urgent” to the NT Government’s Covid Media at 2.05pm yesterday but still don’t have a reply.
We will update this report if and when we receive one from the NT Government.
It told us on April 6 that the Ross Facility on the Ross Highway is for people who “do not have the ability to self-isolate at home, or the means to pay for commercial accommodation”.
The government has announced that “from 17 July anyone arriving into the Northern Territory from or through the state of Victoria in the last 14 days must undertake 14 days mandatory supervised quarantine.
“This will be at your own cost. The cost per person for supervised quarantine is $2500,” said the NT Government release.
SecureNT told us on April 6: “The Ross Facility is a secure facility which operates separate to existing services in the area [and] has been set up to assist with the isolation of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.”
The facility has 20 beds.
UPDATE July 10, 4.10pm
We raised these issues with the NT Government’s COVID Media on July 8, asking: “Is the Ross Facility available at no charge to travellers from Victoria or elsewhere who require quarantine?”
When we had received no answer we raised the issues with the most senior government member in The Centre, MLA for Braitling and Minister for Families Dale Wakefield, at a media conference this morning.
NEWS: From July 17 anyone arriving into the NT from a hotspot must do 14 days mandatory supervised quarantine at their own cost. The Ross Facility is free. Can anyone use it?
WAKEFIELD: The Ross Facility is managed by [the Department of] Health … to manage any overflow from the hospital if we did have an outbreak of COVID cases. We hope never to use it. At the moment we are still providing quarantine in hotels.
NEWS: How many people are in the Ross Facility now?
WAKEFIELD: I am not aware of that. You would need to ask Health.
NEWS: You are the senior minister in this area. Would you check this out for me?
WAKEFIELD: I don’t think there is … This is one of those facilities that would be used into the future if we need it.
NEWS: I am just asking why people have to spend $2500 to undergo quarantine while there is a ready facility to look after them now at no cost.
WAKEFIELD: Because it is for a different purpose. It is not for quarantine. It is for stepping up if and when, hopefully never, we have to use it.
NEWS: So the Ross Facility can be used for quarantine?
WAKEFIELD: If under a certain set of circumstances which Health manage.
NEWS: So the answer is yes. It can be used for quarantine.
WAKEFIELD: We will be using the current system.
NEWS: 20 beds at $2500 is $50,000 a fortnight which you would save Territorians who want to see their loved ones from interstate.
WAKEFIELD: Health is making Health decisions on the basis of Health information.They say they need a facility for a certain purpose.
NEWS: Would you like to see it used while it is empty?
WAKEFIELD: I think it is important for Health to make those decision, not ministers.