NT government changes COVID management system as businesses deal with shifting rules


In the space of a few short weeks, a jurisdiction once known for being largely untouched by COVID has started regularly recording case numbers well into the hundreds. 

Key points:

  • A four-day "lockout" is set to be replaced with a vaccine pass system today
  • The NT government says COVID cases will also be notified with an automatic text
  • Businesses say they are seeing the impact of rocketing case numbers

As more and more people in the Northern Territory test positive, locals are adjusting to the fact that going to work, eating at a restaurant or even having a knock-off beer could see them become a tally in the daily coronavirus figures.

Businesses say the spread of the virus into all regions of the Territory is having an impact — and now the NT government is introducing changes to cope with the rising caseload and help the health system manage.

"I think people are in fear. The streets have been really quiet," Sean Johnston, who owns a cafe in Darwin's CBD, said.

"And speaking to a few other business owners, it's the same thing: it's just been really quiet everywhere.

"I don't think it's a case of a normal slowdown outside the tourism season, it's just the case that people are staying indoors."

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic

He said trade was about 50 per cent down on where it would usually be at this time of year.

The Northern Territory is today expected to come out of a four-day "lockout" — essentially a lockdown for unvaccinated adults, who have only been able to leave their homes for medical services, essential goods and to provide care.

The government also intends to today implement a vaccine pass system, which will require proof of vaccination for people to enter pubs, clubs, casinos, restaurants, cinemas and large ticketed events.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

Mr Johnston said he and his staff had been working to make sure they understood the latest set of changes.

"It is difficult to keep up with the quickly changing conditions and stuff, but we're doing our best," he said.

Another Territory business owner, Antonio Mazza, said his customers were generally compliant but he was prepared to handle anybody who refused to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

"My younger staff, I've instructed that I'll ask if I have to ask — if they feel a bit intimidated," the Coolalinga cafe owner said.

"Not everyone's nice. Most people are, but some people aren't nice, so if that's the case I'll do the asking if need be."

Mr Mazza says most, but not all, customers are happy to show proof of their vaccination status.(ABC News: Housnia Shams)

The NT government has also changed its COVID management and notification systems after a fifth consecutive day of cases in the triple digits.

Now, people who return a positive result will have to complete an online registration form used to let health workers know how much care they require and if their infection can be managed at home.

The changes come after the source of the majority of the NT's new daily cases has been listed as under investigation for two days in a row.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles flagged changes to the notification system over the weekend.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Over the weekend, Health Minister Natasha Fyles spoke about the strain the rising case numbers was putting on contact tracing teams.

She said the number of cases listed as being under investigation would continue to rise as the overall number of infections did.

"We need to make sure that we're doing the work that's important in terms of testing, working with individuals that are infected, trying to identify sources so we can get those onto the exposure sites and work out any close contact locations," she said.

"But going back and simply providing data for the sake of it is not where our focus is."

She encouraged Territorians who returned positive results to contact people they had recently spent time with to let them know of that result.

Mr Johnston said the government should consider offering businesses more support if the low level of trade continued.

"Once you have nights like we did last night, where there's just nobody around, people are in fear," he said.

"The government's got to look at what they can do to support us during those periods."

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 2 minutes 37 seconds2m 37s What to do if you're unwell and suspect you have COVID but can't get a test.Loading form…

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




Recent Posts