As Australian states continue to reinforce harsher lockdowns and border closures amid the ongoing pandemic, the Northern Territory's Chief Minister Michael Gunner has called on residents to cancel their Christmas plans.
"My advice to every Territorian is that you can stay here in the Territory. You're safe here, don't go," Gunner said. “If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans, stay here in the Northern Territory.”
Gunner added the state was currently working on an 18-month plan to maintain a police presence on borders.
"We are recruiting extra police to make sure we keep those hard border controls in place, recruiting extra health officials [to] make sure we can monitor arrivals at the airport," he said.
The announcement comes just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that despite his "hope" COVID-19 restrictions could ease by the holiday period, it's unlikely the rules will change.
“If circumstances change and certainly if they change in the way we hoped they would, well, I would welcome it if by Christmas, if it were possible," he said. “But I think it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to move back to a restriction-free society.”
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has previously stated he would imagine his state’s border will remain closed until mid-2021.
"The chances are border closures will go for months and months and months," McGowan said. "As to whether it's before the end of the year, as to whether it's before the middle of next year, I cannot put a date on it."
Queensland has been the latest state to toughen its border controls, with all of NSW and the ACT locked out for the second time since the pandemic began.
“These new, tough border restrictions are all about keeping Queensland and Queenslanders safe,” the state’s Health Minister Steven Miles said. “They are all about keeping the virus out of Queensland.”