By JULIUS DENNIS
Domestic travel, a key part of the Northern Territory’s economic rebound from Covid-19, was again cast in the shadow of confusion yesterday morning.
As Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced that Brisbane would be going into a three-day lockdown effective at 5pm, my partner and I were at gate 44A of the Brisbane Domestic Terminal, about to board a flight to Adelaide before connecting to Alice Springs.
Our first flight was due to depart Brisbane at 8:20am NT time and our second to land in Alice at around 2:30pm.
To say that there was little information at the airport is an understatement.
No one knew what would happen when we landed in Adelaide, let alone whether we would get to the Territory or what would happen when we arrived.
The idea of a $2500 two week stay at the Todd Facility (pictured) hung over our heads as we boarded the plane.
Chatter of quarantine in Adelaide was spoken of loudly by a group of young cyclists returning from a Brisbane race.
“What will we do in the hotel?”
Others spoke of cancelled Easter plans.
Muffled through masks, it was spoken of as a certainty that we would be staying in hotels on arrival.
When the captain spoke over the PA system he did not have the usual air of authority.
“We do not know what will happen upon arrival, if you wish to get off the plane, you may.”
So without any more information to go off, we got off. The airline was kind enough to refund our flights as credit.
However, one can’t help but think that at this stage of a pandemic there should be protocols; known situations with known next steps.
The NT government didn’t put out a media release until 12:27pm. That said arrivals from Greater Brisbane and a range of other locations were still subject to get a test and self-quarantine until a negative result was returned, a procedure that had been established two days prior on the 27th of March.
Then at 4:29pm I received a media release via email stating that anyone entering the Territory by plane after 4:30pm (one minute later) would have to quarantine at a facility, presumably at their own cost.
If entering by road after 4:30pm but before 11:29pm, quarantine would still be mandatory, but not at the travellers cost.
So would we have made it with the first restrictions of test and wait? Probably.
Could we have known whether that was the case while sitting on the tarmac in Brisbane? Absolutely not.
What is the role of the Federal Government in this mess at this stage?