The Northern Territory's border will remain shut for at least 18 months, according to the chief minister

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  • Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the territory’s borders will remain shut for at least 18 months.
  • People travelling to the NT from Sydney and Victoria are required to complete two weeks of quarantine at their own expense.
  • It’s the latest indication that restrictions and border closures in Australia are unlikely to fully wind back anytime soon.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The Northern Territory’s border will remain shut for at least 18 months as Australia’s coronavirus situation continues to look unstable, Chief Minister Michael Gunner told the ABC on Tuesday.

“We have got an indefinite ban on Victoria, and Sydney keeps bubbling away to a point that I can’t give you a date where that would ever lift,” Gunner told ABC 24, saying that 18 months would be a “conservative” estimate.

“My advice to every Territorian, if you can, stay here in the Territory. You’re safe here, don’t go. If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans, stay here in the Northern Territory.”

Presently, anyone travelling to the Northern Territory from Victoria or Sydney are required to fill in a border declaration and complete two weeks of quarantine at their own expense.

“Territorians first. This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” Gunner said, referring specifically to the Territory’s remote Aboriginal populations.

The chief minister’s declaration came just a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed doubt that Australia would be free of restrictions or border closures before the end of 2020.

“I would welcome if by Christmas it were possible, but I think it’s unlikely that we [will be] able to move back to a restriction-free society [by then],” Morrison said. “I doubt that is going to happen, and I doubt the medical situation will enable it.”

States and territories buckled to economic pressure and encouragement from the federal government to throw open their borders when the coronavirus pandemic was at a low ebb, but the unfolding situation in Victoria changed the calculus.

At the end of July, Queensland halted its border reopening effort first to Victorians and later to travellers from Greater Sydney.

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