Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has indicated he could announce he would re-open the Territory’s borders in mid-July by this Friday after the coronavirus forced them to shut in March.
Such a date would be in line with South Australia, whose Premier Steven Marshall has already announced will open its borders on Monday, July 20.
The Queensland government has indicated its borders will be opened at the same time, Tasmania in late July and Western Australia is yet to give a date.
“We had those mass gathering movements (Black Lives Matters rallies in Victorian and NSW) about a week ago, we will see the full results of that about 10-14 days afterwards and what the medical advice is,” Mr Gunner told Mix FM radio.
“I said I would give 30 days notice, if I was to make a decision at the end of this week to lift borders that puts us on the same timeline as South Australia.
“I wanted to get more information than Premier Marshall has about how those mass gathering events went.
“At the moment it is looking good, the rest of Australia is crushing coronavirus.”
Two Victorian Black Lives Matter protesters have been reported so far as positive to coronavirus.
However Mr Gunner said there was no indication of a “community spread” or outbreak of COVID-19 following the rallies and he was confident of giving “a date very soon”.
The states and the NT are under pressure by the federal government to open and allow free movement and trade again.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says he has given notice to the High Court he would intervene in support of three cases challenging the border closures in WA and Queensland.
Mr Gunner defended NT Labor’s actions in shutting the borders for the last three months, saying it was a medical decision to save lives including people in remote indigenous communities considered vulnerable.
That has put as many as 21,400 people out of work, according to federal treasury estimates, with the hospitality and tourism industries severely affected.
Some people are returning to work as lockdown restrictions have eased.
“I absolutely get that there are businesses out there who are 100 per cent dependant on visitors, I want you to open, I want people to come to the Territory and know they area safe, I want people in the Territory to know they are safe and you can operate safely,” Mr Gunner said.
From Monday, quarantine restrictions eased in the NT with interstate arrivals allowed to self-isolate in a place of their choosing – with strict conditions – rather than being sent into forced into supervised hotel quarantine. It has been more 10 weeks since there was a locally diagnosed COVID-19 case in the NT and all 30 cases have recovered.