ACT police establish a second COVID-19 border checkpoint to ensure those travelling into Canberra are permitted to do so, saying their random approach to guarding the territory from infection is seeing fewer people arrive from hotspots.
ACT police have established a second COVID-19 border checkpoint to ensure those travelling into Canberra are permitted to do so.
- ACT Policing said they were seeing fewer people without an exemption arriving at the border since Saturday
- More than 2,700 people are in quarantine in the ACT the majority of whom have returned from NSW hotspots
- Some motorists complained of the long wait-time to enter the ACT over the weekend, due to the roadside checks
Police have been stationed on the Federal Highway, where they checked 4,483 incoming vehicles over the weekend.
Of those, 147 were turned away while 217 returning ACT residents were directed to quarantine.
Today police established a second checkpoint on Sutton Road, to question drivers entering the territory from Queanbeyan.
ACT Health on Saturday announced a total ban on non-ACT residents from Sydney’s northern beaches, Greater Sydney, Wollongong, and the Central Coast from entering the capital without an exemption.
If people from these areas need to travel to the ACT for extraordinary circumstances, they need to apply for an exemption at least three days before their travel.
Canberrans are permitted to return but must notify ACT Health and isolate for 14 days.
More than 2,700 people are in quarantine in the ACT the majority of whom have returned from NSW hotspots.
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‘We are catching people trying to sneak through’
Motorists took to Facebook to discuss the border checkpoint.(ABC News)
ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Rohan Smith said a second checkpoint had been established at the territory’s border as part of a “scalable strategy” to target those attempting to enter without an exemption.
“We are catching people trying to sneak through we’ve had people that don’t have exemptions attempting to come into the ACT,” Detective Superintendent Smith said.
“They are being turned around.
“We’ve done that on the Federal Highway, and today [in Queanbeyan], and they will be escorted to the border if they don’t have a valid exemption and are not from the ACT.”
It comes after motorists expressed frustration over the long wait to enter Canberra from the north over the weekend.
“Just sat in the queue for over two hours to find that we reached the border and nobody asked us anything and they were packing up the checkpoint. Well done ACT authorities! Taking the Mickey out of us!!” one person wrote on Facebook.
“Three hours to return from Bungendore for less than 30 seconds to show license and say where we had been. Certainly could have been better planned and implemented.”
Others said the benefits outweighed the inconvenience.
“Two hours between 2-4pm coming from Batemans Bay for us. Very happy to do it for the security of our health,” one person wrote.
“Thank you to the police for helping to keep us all protected,” another commented.
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Random border checks happening ‘anywhere, any place’, police warn
ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Rohan Smith at the Queanbeyan border checkpoint on Monday.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)
Detective Superintendent Smith said officers were conducting the border checks in a way that was “not dissimilar to random breath testing.”
“Where we’ll be [checking] anytime, anywhere, any place, and we will cover a range of different points at any different time,” he said.
He said that since the travel ban came in on Saturday, police were seeing “less and less turn-around.”
“This isn’t a hard border closure, this is us conducting border compliance checks,” he said.
“The overwhelming commentary that we’re getting from the people at checkpoints is ‘thank you’.”
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He said Canberrans could feel confident police were doing what was required to protect the territory from the spread of COVID-19.
And he said ACT Policing was planning to have the resources available to man the checkpoints “long-term”.
“They can have confidence that we are mitigating the level of transmission coming into ACT from NSW,” he said.
“It’s a strategy that’s in line with the current health direction.”
Detective Superintendent Smith said the majority of people coming to the ACT without an exemption were actually in transit, and he did not believe they were finding other ways to enter Canberra after being turned away.
“The majority of people attempting to enter the ACT without an exemption are either transiting through or heading to the south coast, so we’re recommending alternate routes that don’t go through the ACT so they can reach their holiday destination,” he said.
Canberrans reminded to social distance
Any Canberrans returning to the territory from a COVID-19 hotspot must self-isolate for 14 days and ACT Health is reminding Canberrans who have returned from elsewhere interstate to monitor for symptoms for at least two weeks.
Anyone who feels unwell is being urged not to go to work and instead get a coronavirus test and self-isolate until given the all-clear.
Australian Medical Association ACT president, Antonio Di Dio, said he would like to see Canberrans practicing better physical distancing in public spaces.
While Dr Di Dio said mandatory masks were not necessary in the territory at this stage, Canberrans needed to follow distancing and hygiene rules.
“What we are failing to do in the ACT and I see it every time I go to Bunnings or to Westfield we are not socially distancing as much as we should,” he said.
“We are complacent in that.”
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