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Exemption to quarantine

All people entering the Northern Territory from overseas or a declared interstate hotspot, are required to undertake 14 days mandatory quarantine in a place specified by the Chief Health Officer.

For the majority of arrivals, mandatory quarantine is undertaken at a Northern Territory Quarantine Facility in Alice Springs or Howard Springs.

The Chief Health Officer can grant approval for an alternative quarantine arrangement, on a case-by-case basis, under special circumstances, but there are no exemptions to quarantine.

Who can apply

The Chief Health Officer’s Direction allows for some staff to undertake critical, urgent and essential services under alternative quarantine arrangements. Examples of service areas that may be considered include:

  • Australian Defence Force
  • Transport or freight or goods and related logistics into, within or out of the Territory
  • Essential, critical or urgent maintenance or repair of power, water and communications
  • Health practitioners requested by the Chief Executive Officer to come to the Territory to perform essential, critical or urgent functions

Alternate places of mandatory quarantine are approved by the Chief Health Officer following a thorough risk assessment, and where organisations or businesses have an approved COVID-19 management plan that demonstrates they can meet all of the strict quarantine requirements. As part of this, workers conducting approved work can only leave their alternative accommodation to attend their place of employment. Regular compliance checks will be undertaken.

How to apply

Fill the online application for exemption.

Organisations applying for an exemption for their employees and who are governed by a COVID-19 management plan must attach a copy to the online form.

Your application will then be assessed on its merits by the Chief Health Officer or appropriate delegate.

The processing of applications can take up to 10 business days. Approved applicants will need to complete a Border Entry form before arrival.

How you will be notified

You will receive a letter or email from the Chief Health Officer or authorised delegate advising you of the decision of your application.

Exemption categories

  • A health practitioner, as defined in section 8(3) of the Act, who is requested by the CEO of the agency responsible for administration of the Act to come to the Territory to perform functions.

    These people must submit an application for exemption and have a letter signed by the Chief Health Officer (or their delegate) outlining the conditions under which they can enter the NT and work.

  • A person who is an agricultural industry worker (excluding abattoir or meat packing worker) providing urgent services that are critical to ensure continuity of the agriculture industry. Note: Due to the elevated risks of some agricultural activities, abattoir and meat packing workers must complete 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine on arrival to the Northern Territory (NT).

    The CHO can grant approval for an alternative quarantine arrangement, on a case-by-case basis, under special circumstances, but there are no exemptions to quarantine.

    Agribusinesses employing workers, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, must complete an online COVID-19 Management Plan and have this approved. The plan must demonstrate why their work is critical and how their employees will work to minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to Territorians or other workers. As part of this, workers can only leave their approved alternative quarantine arrangement to attend their place of employment. Compliance checks will be undertaken.

    Any agriculture workers employed, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, will be required to work according to the agribusiness’ approved COVID-19 Management Plan.

    Agriculture workers

    Agriculture workers, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, can apply for a variation to quarantine, under an approved COVID-19 Management Plan, if they are required to undertake urgent services, critical to the continuity of the agricultural industry.

    Agricultural workers who are not covered under an agribusiness COVID-19 Management Plan, and have been ina hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, need to apply to enter the NT and submit their own online COVID-19 Management Plan for assessment and approval prior to entry.

    Workers who are not immediately required for urgent work, or who work in food preparation, an abattoir, meat packing or catering MUST complete 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine prior to commencing work.

    Examples of agribusiness activities

    • Agricultural Production
      • Harvesters/pickers
      • Packing Shed operators
      • Cool chain personnel (responsible for temperature control for fresh, chilled, frozen food/vaccines/samples and specimens)
      • Agricultural consultants
      • Fertiliser contractors
      • Pest management contractors
      • Plant operators
      • Technicians
      • Mechanics
      • Builders
      • Plant Health inspectors
    • Agricultural research and extension personnel
    • Animal saleyards and animal transportation (livestock only)
      • Export vessel stockmen and Australian Government observers (NOT international travellers)
    • Animal feed production, transportation, packaging, sale and feeding (livestock)
    • Bee keepers
    • Businesses providing support services
      • Food safety and verification
      • Inspection
      • Laboratory functions
      • Biosecurity functions
    • Businesses who support agriculture and farming
      • Mustering contractors
      • Fencing contractors
      • Station hands (Note: does not include catering staff involved in food prep)
      • Veterinarians
      • Livestock consultants
      • Livestock buyers
      • Animal welfare officers
      • Plant operators
      • Transport operators
      • Pilots
      • Bushfire personnel
    • Export supply chain
    • Forestry
    • Farming activities
    • Laboratory and diagnostic services
    • Teaching and scientific facilities that keep animals
    • Veterinary chemical and vaccines production, transportation and distribution
    • Veterinary clinics and related services
      • On farm visits
      • Animal care services (only where there is a genuine animal welfare issue)
      • Artificial insemination
    • Water supply, water managers and water transport

    Application process for agribusinesses

    Agribusinesses must submit an online COVID-19 Management Plan for agricultural workers from a hotspot (link to form) which includes the following details:

    1. type of work you do and why it is urgent that workers from a ‘hotspot’ enter the NT and conduct this work (workers will require evidence of employment when applying)
    2. location of work
    3. travel and accommodation
    4. physical distancing requirements
    5. workplace hygiene requirements
    6. monitoring and identifying COVID-19 symptoms

    If approved, the agribusiness will receive a notification email from the Border Restrictions team. The plan is only submitted once for approval and is valid for six months.

    The agribusiness has a responsibility to provide the approved management plan to their workers and ensure they understand their commitment to work to the plan. It is an offence if workers do not comply with the approved plan.

    Application process for workers under an approved agribusiness COVID-19 Management Plan

    Agriculture workers, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to entering the NT, are required to complete and submit an online application for exemption to Mandatory Supervised Quarantine to enter the NT under their agribusiness’ COVID-19 Management Plan.

    To apply agriculture workers will need:

    • the reference number for their agribusiness’ approved COVID-19 management plan (Example: CHOE-XXXX)
    • a letter of employment from the agribusiness they will work at. Subcontractors need a letter of support from the site controller or project owner
    • to agree to undertake a COVID-19 test in the 72 hours prior to travel, self-isolate after the test and only travel if they have a negative result.

    If approved, the agriculture worker will receive a notification email from the Border Restrictions team and a letter of approval. The letter will allow a one-time entry to the NT.

    Application process for agriculture workers not under an agribusiness COVID-19 Management Plan

    Agricultural workers who are not covered under an agribusiness COVID-19 Management Plan, and have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, need to apply to enter the NT and submit their own online COVID-19 Management Plan for agricultural workers from a hotspot which includes the following details:

    1. type of work you do and why it is urgent that workers from a ‘hotspot’ enter the NT and conduct this work (workers will require evidence of employment when applying)
    2. location of work
    3. travel and accommodation
    4. physical distancing requirements
    5. workplace hygiene requirements
    6. monitoring and identifying COVID-19 symptoms

    If approved, the agriculture worker will receive a notification email from the Border Restrictions team and a letter of approval.

    All agriculture workers need to be aware of the conditions they must follow under their own/agribusiness’ COVID-19 Management Plan. It is an offence if workers do not comply with the approved plan.

    Border entry requirements

    Each time a worker enters the NT they must complete a Border Entry Form and provide evidence of their approved COVID-19 Management Plan and approval letter signed by the CHO or a CHO delegate. A new approval letter is required each time a worker enters the NT or changes employer.

    Special requirements

    Agriculture workers, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to arriving in the NT, must maintain a record of the places they have travelled to and stopped at, for 14 days after leaving the hotspot. The record includes:

    • Date
    • Time
    • Place
    • Reason
    • Person’s name and contact details (if known to you)

    Testing

    All agriculture workers, who have been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to entering the NT, must:

    • Have a COVID-19 test in the 72 hours prior to travel
    • Quarantine after the test and only travel if the test result is negative
    • Undertake  a COVID-19 test on or around day 12 after they leave a hotspot
    • Confirm a negative COVID-19 test result to exit quarantine.

    Examples

    An agriculture worker who arrives in the NT from a declared hot spot, and receives approval to operate under a COVID-19 Management Plan in the NT, is exempt from Mandatory Supervised Quarantine, but is required to quarantine in approved alternative accommodation for 14 days.

    The place of quarantine must be suitable, ensure physical distancing of 1.5m and observe hygiene and cleaning protocols. Suitable accommodation is a bedroom or sleeping area that is separate from any other person and preferably has its own bathroom.

    The worker must remain in quarantine while not working or until they depart the NT (if earlier than 14 days). Quarantine means that you cannot leave your accommodation for any reason other than for essential functions associated with working or accessing emergency medical treatment. You must have your own supply of food or have food delivered to your accommodation. You cannot go shopping or to a restaurant/bar for a meal. You may utilise shared bathroom amenities as long as you stay 1.5 metres away from others and clean up and sanitise afterwards.

    Travel is only permitted in a company vehicle, to and from the airport and worksite. While in the vehicle the worker must maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from other persons in the vehicle. The worker is required to wear a mask at all times in shared indoor areas including vehicles.

    At the worksite, workers from a hotspot must remain separate from others for their 14 day quarantine period. They must wear a mask in all shared common rooms and remain 1.5 metres away from others at all times in their accommodation and worksite.

    Workplace hygiene practices include access to cleaning and hand sanitising products, waste disposal, managing shared equipment and spaces like tools, kitchens and offices, and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks.

    A plan outlining the steps taken to monitor and identify workers with COVID-19 symptoms is required. Actions may include a daily temperature check and assessment of workers for COVID-19 symptoms, immediate separation of a person/s showing symptoms of COVID-19, and contacting the COVID-19 hotline and following advice given.

  • All freight workers must comply with Chief Health Officer (CHO) Direction 50 .

    Freight workers entering the Northern Territory and the drivers of a freight vehicle that has a Gross Vehicle Mass of over 4.5 tonnes or train crew must complete and submit an online COVID-19 Freight Risk Mitigation Management Plan to the Northern Territory Government before entering the Northern Territory.

    If approved the freight worker will be issued a Certificate of Agreement that will be valid for a period of time specified on the certificate.

    Freight workers will then be committed to working under their plan while in the NT. Under the CHO Directions it is an offence to not comply with the plan submitted.

    Freight workers will need to show their Certificate of Agreement at the border and complete a Border Entry Form every time they enter the NT.

    Freight workers will not be permitted entry without their Certificate of Agreement.

    By completing a Freight Risk Mitigation Management Plan freight workers agree to comply with all conditions attached to this plan including:

    • Practice physical distancing
    • Quarantine if been in a hotspot
    • Undertake a COVID-19 test every seven days, and carrying evidence of the last test
    • Maintaining a log of movements and close contacts
    • Carrying adequate PPE including gloves, face masks and hand sanitiser.

    The Certificate of Agreement is valid for the duration specified on certificate. A freight worker does not need to submit a plan each time they come to the NT but once the period expires on the Certificate they need to submit another plan.

    Random checks will also be undertaken to ensure that the log of movements, evidence of testing and PPE is being carried.

    If freight workers have been in a declared hotspot in the 14 days prior to entering the NT, they must agree to quarantine in suitable accommodation when not working in the NT for their quarantine period, A freight worker’s quarantine period commences at time of arrival in the NT and finishes 14 days after the worker was last in a hotspot.

    Testing

    Call the COVID-19 Hotline to arrange a testing – 1800 008 002 (press 1 for COVID enquiries and 1 again to arrange testing). You can get a test in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek or Nhulunbuy.

    Darwin freight Industry COVID-19 Testing facility

    Truck Central, 15 Tandem Street, Wishart, Darwin, NT

    Please call us on 0448 582 731, Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm to make a booking.

    On arrival to the Darwin Testing Facility, please remain in your vehicle and text or call 0448 582 731 to inform the collector of your arrival.

    You will then be directed to the area where your COVID- 19 sample will be collected.

    Read the Freight Industry Covid-19 Darwin Testing Facility Fact Sheet PDF (198.8 KB) for more information

    Examples

    A freight worker who leaves a COVID-19 hotspot on 1 September 2020 and enters the NT at 23:00 (11 pm) on 4 September 2020 must, when not working, remain in quarantine until 12:00 (noon) on 15 September 2020.

    A freight worker who leaves a COVID-19 hotspot on 4 September 2020 and enters the NT on 4 September 2020 at 23.00 (11 pm) must, when not working, remain in quarantine until 12:00 (noon) on 18 September 2020. If a freight worker hasn’t been in a hotspot in the 14 days prior to entering the NT, they do not need to quarantine.

    Quarantine means that you cannot leave your vehicle or accommodation for any reason other than for essential functions associated with working, including; refuelling, load restraint, vehicle maintenance, accessing essential restroom services or emergency medical treatment. Where possible you must have your own supply of food or have food delivered to your accommodation. You cannot go shopping or to a restaurant/bar for a meal. You may utilise the roadhouse truck stops and restrooms, as long as you they stay 1.5 metres away from others and clean up and sanitise afterwards.

    Suitable accommodation is considered to be a bedroom or sleeping area that is separate from any other person and if a hotel room, has its own bathroom and can include the cabin of your truck or train.

    For more information contact Border exemptions 1800 490 484.

    Call the COVID-19 Hotline to arrange a testing – 1800 008 002 (press 1 for COVID enquiries and 1 again to arrange testing).

    You can get a test in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek or Nhulunbuy.

    Download NT Border Control and (COVID-19) Freight Movement Fact sheet and information PDF (157.9 KB)

  • A person who is required to enter the Territory for essential, urgent or critical maintenance or repair of power, water, communications or other infrastructure critical to the Territory.

    These people must submit an exemption application and have a letter signed by the Chief Health Officer (or their delegate) outlining the conditions under which they can enter the NT and work.

  • A member from a flight crew is exempt from 14 days of self-quarantine if they:

    • do not leave the aircraft or airport or
    • leave the aircraft or airport only to check in to and remain quarantined at accommodation, and
    • practise social distancing measures.
  • All crew of commercial vessels must comply with Chief Health Officer (CHO) Direction 51.

    A crew member who has been in a hotspot within the 14 days prior to their entry into the Territory will need to quarantine. A crew member’s relevant quarantine period is the period commencing at their time of arrival in the Territory and ends at noon on the 14th day after the crew member was last in a hotspot.

    In other words: time spent outside of a hotspot will count towards the crew members 14 days when they arrive in the Territory.

    Examples

    A crew member who leaves a COVID-19 hotspot on 1 September 2020 and enters the Territory at 23:00 (11 pm) on 4 September 2020 must, when not working, remain in quarantine until 12:00 (noon) on 15 September 2020.

    A crew member who leaves a COVID-19 hotspot on 4 September 2020 and enters the Territory on 4 September 2020 at 23.00 (11 pm) must, when not working, remain in quarantine until 12:00 (noon) on 18 September 2020.

    There are no changes to international arrivals. Crew members who arrive from overseas will need to undertake 14 days quarantine before joining the vessel.

    A crew member will not be classified as an international arrival if they leave from a place in Australia, enter International waters and do not berth in a foreign port or have any interaction or interchange with other people or vessels and then enter the Territory.

  • More information

    If you are seeking information on exemptions for quarantining call 1800 490 484 or doh.exempt@nt.gov.au.

    8am – 5pm, 7 days