Questions and answers
For more information about mandatory vaccination
Our health experts have determined that before we make changes to borders and outbreak measures, we need to reach 80% plus of the eligible Territory population being vaccinated.
- More than 80 % of the population over 16 being fully vaccinated;
- Each of the five regions in the Territory reaching 80 %;
- Each of the age cohorts being either above or very close to 80 %;
- Remote communities reaching 80-90 per vaccinated; and
- A strong and growing rate of vaccinations among children aged 12 to 16 years.
Once we reach our vaccination target, we will transition our hot spots policy to three types of travel categories – with different rules depending on whether the traveller is vaccinated or unvaccinated.
Green zone travellers are from any place that is not a designated COVID hot spot. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated from a green zone will be permitted free access to the Territory. This is the same rule that we have now for any area that is not a hot spot.
Orange zone travellers are those arriving from an area that has low-level COVID risk.
This could include there being risk factors like exposure sites and positive waste-water, or as in initial designation while we determine if a location needs to be a hot spot.
The orange category would also be used when we transition out of a location being a hotspot, before it be declared a green zone.
Vaccinated travellers arriving from an orange zone will be required to self-quarantine – at home or in another suitable location – and they can then leave their quarantine once they have received a negative test result. For vaccinated travellers, this is the same as the current ‘test-and-isolate’ directions we sometimes have for COVID exposure sites interstate.
Red zone travellers are those arriving from an area that has been designated as a COVID hot spot by the Chief Health Officer. Vaccinated people arriving from red zones will no longer have to quarantine in Howard Springs or the Alice Springs facility. Instead, if fully vaccinated and arriving from a hot spot, travellers will be required to undertake 14 days of self-quarantine – at their home or in another suitable location – for the full 14 days.
They will be banned from entering unless there is an approved reason for travel, such as a resident returning, or essential work purposes.
Unvaccinated travellers with an approved reason for travel will be required to quarantine at Howard Springs or Alice Springs for 14 days.
We understand that there are people who cannot get vaccinated – like children under 12, and some people for medical reasons – and we will make allowances for them.
As the national vaccination rate rises, we will continue to review our policy and ease our restrictions when we feel it is safe to do.
It will depend on the circumstances of any future outbreak here – on the cases, on the spread, on all of the things our health experts weigh up when considering the best course.
Depending on the circumstances of an outbreak, instead of an automatic lockdown – we may instead go straight into a lock-out. This would see vaccinated people not having to lock down and continue to work, shop and go about their business wearing a mask.
There may be some internal travel restrictions – to ensure people from an outbreak area don’t cross into other areas. But for vaccinated people – life will continue almost as usual.
People who can get vaccinated but have chosen not to will be required to lockdown with only the five usual reasons to leave home.
People are only permitted to leave home for the following five reasons:
- Medical treatment, including COVID testing or vaccination
- For essential goods and services, like groceries and medications
- For work that is considered essential
- For one hour of outdoor exercise a day within 5 km from your home with one other person or people from your house
- To provide care and support to a family member or person who cannot support themselves.
There may be some internal travel restrictions, to ensure people from an outbreak area don’t cross into other areas, but life will continue almost as usual.
We are working on upgrading the Territory Check In app so that it can be linked to your vaccination certificate. That will help venues ensure that only vaccinated people are entering their premises or venues during a lockdown or lockout situation.
We will be making the vaccine mandatory for workers in high-risk sectors and settings. In the coming weeks we will be consulting with industries to determine exactly how and when this will happen. People who directly interact with anyone who is especially vulnerable to COVID-19 in the course of their work will need to get vaccinated.
This will include all teachers and child care workers as well as frontline health and emergency services roles. Those who have contact with vulnerable and transient populations in our community services sector, and anyone who works in a remote community, and anyone working in a customer-facing role like supermarket, retail and hospitality workers will all need to get vaccinated.
The vaccine will be mandatory for those at risk of COVID being brought into their work setting. This would include quarantine and border control workers – where we already have vaccination coverage. However, it would also include places symptomatic people may visit – like GP clinics and pharmacies.
Anyone who undertakes work that relates to essential infrastructure, supply or logistics – basically anyone who is doing something that is critical to keeping the Territory running – will need to be vaccinated.
The Chief Health Officer will issue a legal direction with a date that is still to be determined. However, knowing that this is likely, workers in these areas should be getting vaccinated now.
If the employee does not get vaccinated by the determined date, the employer may decide to reassign them to another role, or, they may have to dismiss them. We will work with industry in the coming weeks as we prepare this mandate for implementation and ensure workers and employers are aware of their obligations.
We need as many Territorians as possible to be fully vaccinated because we can’t protect ourselves from COVID forever. Once we have reached an 80% plus vaccination rate amongst all age groups, regions and communities we will implement our announce changes.
We are doing all we can to overcome vaccine hesitancy and complacency in Aboriginal populations. Everyone in a remote community who gets vaccinated is doing so much more than just protecting themselves they are protecting their elders, their young ones and the oldest continuous culture on the planet.
Even when we have hit our target vaccination rate, there will still be extra measures in place to protect the vulnerable, including remote communities. We are working with Land Councils to restrict visitors to their communities and ensure essential workers are fully vaccinated.
We cannot wait forever to move forward. If there are a handful of communities where the vaccination rate remains low, despite all the efforts of government, land councils and health services, as a last resort we may need to look at other options to restrict movement in and out of those community, under the Commonwealth’s biosecurity powers. Right now, our focus is on working together to get all our remote communities vaccinated.
We are working on how we can better protect our kids, such as ventilation in schools and random testing for people who are in places frequented by young kids – like schools and sports competitions.