Indigenous Australians "sick and tired" of strict COVID-19 travel restrictions

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-15 13:10:57|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Indigenous Australians have called for the government to lift travel restrictions to their remote communities in the Northern Territory (NT).

The federal government has imposed lockdowns on 76 remote NT communities until June 18 under the Biosecurity Act to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among the vulnerable communities.

Under the restrictions, non-essential travelers have been banned from visiting the communities while residents who venture out to stock up on supplies face mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

Que Kenny, a Western Arranta woman from the community of Hermannsburg in central Australia, said that as temperatures begin to fall members of the community needed to travel to stock up on medicine, supplies and warm clothing.

"The community stores weren't fully prepared, they too had problems with their food delivery," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

"It has brought us stress and discomfort and confusion."

She said without access to a reliable internet connection, computer or credit card, many of the 625 Hermannsburg residents could not shop online.

"Aboriginal people in remote communities are getting sick and tired of being locked in," said Kenny.

There have been 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the NT, the fewest of any state or territory.

The NT government was the first in Australia to begin easing its coronavirus restrictions but does not have the power to lift the indigenous travel restrictions.

Michael Gunner, the chief minister of NT, on Tuesday wrote to Greg Hunt, the federal health minister, asking him to lift the restriction on June 5, 13 days earlier than planned.

"I believe we can do this because of our strict NT border controls, we have had no new cases for a long time, and Territorians are doing the right thing," he said.

Ken Wyatt, the federal minister for indigenous affairs, on Wednesday voiced his support for lifting the restrictions early.

"Given the exemplarily outcome in the Northern Territory I have no difficulty with that," he said.

"I've forwarded the correspondence I received to Minister Hunt and, based on the advice of our Chief Medical Officer, I see no reason for us not to lift those restrictions." Enditem