The rising number of COVID-19 infections in the Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong areas has led to the introduction of border restrictions by ACT police.
Under the direction of ACT Health, police are enacting scalable, unpredictable border checkpoint controls across the main arterial roads into the territory, adopting the random breath testing mantra of "anytime, anywhere".
ACT residents who have been in the affected areas, especially the northern beaches of Sydney, will be required to file their travel plans via the online portal, provide their details and be prepared to isolate and quarantine in the ACT for 14 days.
Anyone travelling from the affected NSW areas into the ACT will be not be permitted to enter and will be turned around by police.
The border checkpoints have been in place for several days but a number of questions are still being asked by travellers and those intending to travel. Here's some of the most common:
I'm from across the border, have not been to the hotspots and drive into the ACT every week day for work and for a doctor's appointment. What restrictions apply to me?
Local government areas close to the ACT such as Queanbeyan-Palerang, Wingecarribee, Shoalhaven, Goulburn Mulwaree, Eurobodalla and Yass Valley LGAs are not currently included on the list of affected areas.
However, people travelling into Canberra from these areas using the northern arterial roads and highways should expect possible delays due to border checkpoints, and this delay should be included in potential travel plans.
I'm from the ACT and returning from Greater Sydney. How soon before travelling do I need to fill out the online form?
At least 24 hours before your intended travel time.
From what date do quarantine restrictions apply to ACT residents returning home from affected areas?
It applies to anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches local government area (LGA) in the past 14 days, and to anyone who has been in the remaining LGAs in Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong since 21 December 2020.
I'm coming from outside the NSW restricted area and would like to transit through the ACT because it's the shortest route. Can I do this?
Essential personnel transiting in and out of Canberra - such as truck drivers delivering food - are able to transit under strict conditions to wear masks and not to leave their cabins. They cannot visit anyone, or any public places.
However, police have confirmed that road travellers from outside the territory cannot use the ACT simply as a way to transit to other parts of NSW unless given an exemption to do so by NSW Health.
The police advise that as an alternative, NSW-only travel routes should be used.
What if I'm an ACT resident returning to the ACT via bus or train from an affected area? Do the same conditions apply? Are police monitoring the buses and trains?
Yes, the need to fill out the declaration and quarantine applies to any returning ACT resident who has been in the Northern Beaches local government area (LGA) in the past 14 days, and to anyone who has been in the remaining LGAs in Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong since 21 December 2020.
Police are not monitoring the buses and trains. This is done by other designated health officers.
How many quarantine checks have been conducted and with what outcome?
There have been around 4500 border checks on travellers by ACT police since the restrictions began.
As of mid-afternoon Monday, around 147 people from affected NSW areas have been turned around.
I'm in Greater Sydney, Central Coast or Wollongong, can I drop someone off in the ACT without quarantining?
People in these areas should not be travelling to the ACT at this time.
However, if you are permitted to travel by NSW Health (and any other state or territory you are travelling to or from) and are urgently required to drop an ACT resident off in the ACT you may do so.
You must immediately leave the ACT after you have dropped the person off. You must not stay overnight, visit any public places, visit friends and family, or go through a drive-through while in the ACT.
I'm an ACT resident returning home from outside an affected area. Can I travel through COVID-affected areas (like Greater Sydney) on my way to Canberra without stopping?
You do not require an exemption if you have transited through Sydney airport only (or stayed overnight in an Airport Hotel without leaving the hotel), or if you have transited through a COVID-affected area by road without stopping.
You are not required to quarantine in the ACT.
What is the process of applying for an exemption for non-ACT residents?
Non-ACT residents will need to apply for an exemption at least three days prior to their travel to the ACT but no more than 14 days before travelling.
What sort of exemptions are required for non-ACT residents entering the ACT (and are not from the close NSW border regions)?
Exemption will be considered in circumstances such as:
- Law enforcement or emergency purposes
- Urgent medical treatment
- Essential workers, who meet certain criteria
- Highly exceptional compassionate circumstances
- Moving permanently to the ACT