Biosecurity Zones are needed to slow the spread of COVID

Date: Feb 3, 2022

Publication Type: Media Releases

Subject: Coronavirus

The NLC welcomes the decision by the Commonwealth government, with the support of the NT government, to establish a series of Biosecurity Zones across the NLC area.

Chairman of the NLC, Samuel Bush-Blanasi supported the move. 

“We’ve been getting calls for weeks now from traditional owners and community members right across the NLC area.  

“They want to stop people coming in from outside. These Biosecurity Zones or ‘bubbles’ will help slow the spread of Covid out bush and give us more time to get more people their second and third jabs. We also have to get vaccinations for our kids 5 years old and up. School is back and they need to be vaccinated.” 

Travel both into and out of Biosecurity Zones will be restricted. People will be free to move within each Zone. Public roads, freehold land and pastoral leaseholds are excluded. 

“You can move around inside your own Biosecurity Zone but you can’t leave it without an exemption. This means that in Beswick and Barunga area where I am from, people will be able to travel from Beswick/Wugularr to Barunga or Bulman or Manyallaluk but not to Katherine or Mataranka. That’s the same for people in Katherine or Darwin – they won’t be able to travel into one of the Biosecurity Zone areas,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi. 

“There will be exemptions but you will need an exemption form and a negative RAT test before you travel. But not if you’ve got the Covid – then you will have to isolate and stay in quarantine,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi. 

All essential services will be able to leave and enter under strict COVID Safe Plans so that essential services like health, police, fuel and food to communities are maintained.  

If people have medical or other emergencies they are automatically exempted to travel to hospital, for example, for treatment and to return.  

At present the Biosecurity Zones will be in place for two weeks but may be extended. The boundaries of the Biosecurity Zones may be varied - expanded or reduced – depending on the spread of Covid and progress with vaccinations and booster shots. 

“Nobody is safe unless you are double vaccinated with a booster,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi. 

Frequently asked questions

Where are the Biosecurity Zones? 

The Biosecurity Zones are in five Local Government Authority (LGA) areas across the NLC region: East Arnhem, West Arnhem, Roper Gulf, Victoria Daly and West Daly.  See detailed maps below.

How do people get an exemption? 

For people wanting to return to country or leave a remote community inside a Biosecurity Zone, they will need to get an exemption from the NLC. NLC Regional Managers are available to help people inside Biosecurity Zones fill in the paperwork if they want to travel outside the Biosecurity Zone or from one Zone to another.

The form is available for download here. 

Who approves Essential Workers?

Anyone entering a Biosecurity Zone to undertake an ‘essential activity’ will either have an automatic exemption or need to seek approval through the NT Government. For a list of Essential Workers/'essential activities' download here.   

What about medical emergencies or hospital treatment?

An automatic exemption will apply to allow for travel for medical emergencies and hospital treatment and return. 

Will existing permits already issued be continued? 

Existing permits will continue.  

Will police be enforcing compliance with people who break the rules?

Yes. NT Police have provided the 131 444 number to report someone suspected of non-compliance with quarantine or self-isolation requirements. The have also established an online reporting form here.

It is important to note that the Biosecurity Zones are not punitive but are an appropriate and proportionate response designed to slow movement and the spread of COVID, buying time for more vaccinations and boosters.  

Local Government Area (LGA) COVID Biosecurity Zones
East Arnhem (Biosecurity Zone 1)  Birr Rawarrang / Gumurr Miwatj# / Gumurr Miyarrka / Gumurr Gattjirrk / Gumurr Marthakal #Does not include Connected Communities Area 1 - Exclusion Zone (See item 1 of CHO Directions (No.7) 2022 – Amendment of CHO Directions (No.3) 2022 Exclusion Zone Amendment #2) 
West Arnhem (Biosecurity Zone 2)  Gunbalanya / Maningrinda / Warruwi / Minjilang 
Roper Gulf** (Biosecurity Zone 3)  Nyirranggulung / Never Never / Yugal Mangi / Numbulwar Numburindi / South West Gulf **Includes the Kuwarrungu ward from Barkly LGA 
Victoria Daly (Biosecurity Zone 4)  Walangeri, Timber Creek* *Excluding Kneebone, Marralum & Jiylinum (homelands) 
West Daly (Biosecurity Zone 5)  Thamarrurr Pindi Pindi / Tyemirri / Nganmarriyanga