CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that the Northern Territory borders would remain closed for 18 months. Since then, the state government has clarified that it is only an estimated hard closure to people from hotspots, while everyone else is “welcome” – although they need to fill in a border declaration pass.

The NT border is looking like it’ll remain closed to residents from coronavirus hotspots for at least another 18 months, the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner has confirmed.

Speaking with ABC24 this morning, Gunner said that the 18-month extension was a “conservative” estimate for the reopening of the Top End’s borders, and urged Territorians to cancel Christmas plans and remain in the territory, where they are safe.

“Territorians first. This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” he said.

“I‘m not taking risks here. Your life comes first. This is the Territory-first test. If you’re as safe as us, you’re welcome in.

“If you’re not, sorry, we’re closed to you.”

At the time of writing, the NT borders are closed indefinitely to Sydneysiders and all Victorian residents due to the current coronavirus outbreaks in both areas deeming them high-risk areas.

Gunner also confirmed that the NT is recruiting extra authorities to help maintain the extended border closures, and monitor arrivals both by road and plane.

“We’re working towards at least an 18-month window from today, towards the end of next year, is how we’re starting to resource our borders,” he said.

“We’re recruiting extra police, making sure we’re keeping those hard border controls in place. Recruiting extra health officials, making sure we can monitor arrivals at the airport.”

He also said that the NT is also working quickly to shut the borders off to any other hotspot areas that may arise, and have recently done so for Brisbane residents while tests were being conducted.

We closed down Brisbane the other day while we waited for those test results to come in. They come in, they cleared Brisbane, Brisbane was allowed back in,” he said.

“We will act early, quickly and we’ll act on degrees of risk.”

For now, anyone entering the NT from Sydney or Victoria must quarantine for two weeks at their own expense. Everyone else who is looking to travel into the NT must fill out a border declaration pass.

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