Update: The ACT has extended its stay-at-home requirements to the whole of Greater Sydney and surrounding regions as the latest NSW Covid outbreak worsens.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has said the territory government would consider placing a police checkpoint on the ACT-NSW border as a last resort if Sydney's Covid situation escalated further.
A decision by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday to send four Sydney council areas into a one-week lockdown prompted the ACT government to ban residents from 30 metropolitan Sydney local government areas entering Canberra.
All Sydney residents were banned from entering the ACT from 4pm on Friday until at least July 2, unless they have an exemption, as NSW's Covid crisis deepens.
The decision will apply to residents from all Sydney metropolitan local government areas, but not those from the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong or Shellharbour.
The restrictions prompted the cancellation of several Qantas and Rex flights between Canberra and Sydney on Friday, coinciding with the start of the school holidays.
There were also limited passenger numbers onboard Murrays buses coming in from Sydney in the capital, with just five on one bus that arrived just after the new measures came into effect.
Exemptions will only be granted to essential workers or travellers under extraordinary circumstances, but stay-at-home orders would still apply once they are inside the ACT.
Canberrans who are returning from Sydney will still be subject to stay-at-home orders until July 2, and will need to complete a travel declaration within 24 hours of their arrival.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was not feasible to establish a blockade of the ACT-NSW border following the decision, due to the high number of entry points into the territory and the amount of essential workers who travel to the region.
"The ACT would need to be locked down ourselves before there would be a blockade," Mr Barr said.
"If the risk was so significant that we would try and shut the border with NSW, we couldn't keep [the virus] out anyway and there is too much essential travel across the border and it's too expensive.
"Compliance checks have been done before and they may be utilised, but I would say that would be close to a last resort."
Police checkpoints were set up on the border on the Federal Highway and Kings Highway during the Christmas-New Year period following a surge in Covid cases on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
Travellers entering the ACT were randomly stopped by police during that period.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said police checkpoints would be considered as an option if the situation in Sydney deteriorated.
"We have previously set up those border checks and if that is considered necessary that would be considered, but it is a resource-intensive process," she said.
Canberrans heading north for the school holidays have been advised not to stop in Sydney, even for fuel or food, as they would be subject to the stay-at-home orders upon returning to the ACT.
Those who were already subject to a stay-at-home order in the ACT after visiting one of seven local government areas in Sydney that had Covid exposure sites will have those orders extended to July 2.
It was revealed there were already 2400 people in ACT who were subject to the previous stay-at-home orders, with more than 13,500 people having filled out a travel declaration.
Mr Barr said while the travel restrictions would be a frustration for some, they were a necessary action.
"There is a risk the virus will spread beyond greater Sydney and find its way into the ACT," he said.
"Do not travel into Sydney. Avoid Sydney for the foreseeable future."
The travel restrictions will still apply to Sydneysiders, regardless if they have been vaccinated or not.
"Being vaccinated means they are protected from the disease, but it doesn't stop them from being transmitters of the virus and transmit it to someone else," Mr Barr said.
The full list of Sydney local government areas include:
- Canada Bay
- City of Sydney
- Georges River
- Hunters Hill
- Inner West
- Lane Cove
- North Sydney
- Northern Beaches
- Sutherland Shire
- The Hills
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