Prisons count as ‘places of quarantine’ if 14 days served

PRISONERS who are ready for release, and have spent 14 or more days in prison, are being granted permission by the NT Health Department to return to remote communities, with their time served being treated as time in quarantine.

NT Health officials have been issuing certificates to members of remote indigenous communities who had been in any of the NT's four custodial facilities for at least 14 days, allowing them to be repatriated.

Since March 26, members of all of the Territory's 76 communities who have left face mandatory quarantine for 14 days before returning home, to prevent COVID-19 spreading to some of the Territory's most vulnerable residents.

The protections are in place under the Commonwealth's Biosecurity Act.

A spokeswoman from the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice said COVID-19 contingency plans in place in the NT's correctional facilities qualify them as "places of quarantine."


"Correctional Services is constantly reviewing its COVID-19 contingency plans which include a range of measures to protect vulnerable people including prisoners," she said.

"These contingency plans and measures enable the NT's four custodial facilities to qualify as places of quarantine under Department of Health guidelines."

The spokeswoman said new people entering the prisons from the general community are isolated for 14 days to ensure they don't potentially spread the virus to other prisoners.

"After the 14 days in isolation prisoners undergo a further medical examination before joining the rest of the general correctional facility population," she said.

Certificates allowing travel into areas deemed biosecurity zones can be issued by the NT Land Councils, NT Police, Australian Border Force and NT Health officials.

Currently, all non-essential travel into communities is banned.

It comes after Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced on Friday that the NT will be looking to lift biosecurity zone restrictions on remote communities next month.

"In my opinion, I think you can genuinely start planning for those (biosecurity zone) restrictions in the NT to be lifted on June 18 or be significantly varied," Mr Gunner said.

Originally published as NT prisons count as 'places of quarantine' if 14 days served

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