Travel ban implemented in the NT
KAKADU could be closed to visitors, if concerns about coronavirus spreading in remote communities held by Traditional Owners are listened to by Parks Australia.
At its meeting yesterday, the Northern Land Council decided all existing non-essential permits would be suspended and no new non-essential travel permits would be granted unitl further notice.
NLC chief executive Marion Scrymgour said members of communities were concerned.
"The NLC has received many calls from community members asking that we do all we can to ensure the safety and protection of Aboriginal people in their communities who are very concerned about the spread of COVID-19," she said.
"To be clear, this decision will not affect the permits issued to those people - the doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, council workers and others - that provide essential services for Aboriginal people out bush."
The NLC executive council has further directed Ms Scrymgour to raise with the Commonwealth the concerns held by the traditional Aboriginal owners of the Kakadu National Park about continuing park access arrangements.
Sunday's Tiwi Islands Grand Final had already banned all non-essential people from attending.
It comes as the NT Local Court circuit court services were yesterday suspended until at least May.
Circuit courts are court systems where judges to travel to different locales to ensure wide visibility and understanding of cases in a region.
It comes as the Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy defended his advice to the federal cabinet not to be tested for the coronavirus after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton became one of the now 200 Australians to become infected.
Mr Dutton became sick with COVID-19 on Friday, just days after attending a cabinet meeting including Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.
But Professor Murphy says it has always been public advice that people only be tested after being in contact with someone infected with coronavirus within 24 hours of them developing symptoms.
"If you have been in contact with them two or three days before they are symptomatic, they are very, very, very unlikely to be infectious," he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.
Australia clocked up 200 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday after three South Australians became infected. There are some 140,000 cases worldwide. SA Premier Stephen Marshall announced the additional cases ahead of a teleconference between Mr Morrison, the six premiers and two chief ministers - now know as the national cabinet - at midday on Sunday.
This follows Friday's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting which took on the expert advice that all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled from Monday.
"We all know this is a global epidemic which we will not be immune from here in Australia but, by working in advance, by working together, we can minimise the effects," Mr Marshall told reporters in Adelaide.
Events such as the Melbourne Grand Prix and Sydney's Easter Show have already been cancelled. In New Zealand, the commemoration of the Christchurch massacre a year ago has also been cancelled.
"We do know large gatherings, large groups are well know internationally to be one of the quickest ways to spread a virus if there is community transmission," Prof Murphy said.
The closing down of sporting events impacts not only on fans, but also small businesses involved.
"It's not to say these things shouldn't be cancelled, but we've got to understand the impact on small businesses and their staff is absolutely enormous, catastrophic," Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell told ABC television.
She said while initiatives in the government's near-$18 billion stimulus package will help, the problem is businesses don't know how long this is going on for. The government has indicated there could be further measures in the May budget. Ms Carnell said the 1.4 million small businesses that don't employ people need to be looked at.
"So far there is nothing for that group," she said.