Australian Defense Forces deployed to ACT borders as coronavirus cases rise | Canberra Times

Corona Virus,

The Australian Defense Force will be deployed to the ACT border in the coming days to help stem the flow of unauthorized travel from NSW. It was revealed during Friday’s COVID update that the ACT has been working with the Commonwealth for several weeks to assign defense personnel to Canberra entry points. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ADF will work alongside ACT police and state emergency services to prevent people from coming to Canberra without an exemption. The escalating response followed investigations by health authorities at several different entry points for the virus from New South Wales. The chief minister has reported the authorities’ growing frustration with non-compliance over recent days, warning members of the public who violate public health orders to face fines. “There will be troops on the ground,” Barr said on Friday. Starting next week, the Department of Defense will operate the border along Federal Highway, Canberra Street, Lannion Drive and Monaro Freeway, with times and locations of checkpoints varying over the next few weeks. The border operation was already intensified this week before the school holidays, with ACT police turning away 15 vehicles on the federal highway before midday Friday. Police reported that the majority had traveled from Sydney or Goulburn, on the same day New South Wales recorded 1,284 new cases of coronavirus, including three from Goulburn. Donna Hofmayer, the acting superintendent of the ACT’s Road Police, said the majority claimed they were traveling for work purposes, however, entry was not permitted without an exemption. Acting Superintendent Hofmeyer said the Border Patrol was a massive operation. She said managing all entry points for 24 hours requires more than 300 of the 900 police officers. More than 4,300 vehicles were stopped on the first day of operation Thursday, with more than 20,000 vehicle compliance checks since the lockdown began. Read more COVID-19 news: Travelers from NSW who were found to have deliberately tried to break the rules have been issued with fines. Acting Director of Detectives Hofmeyer said ACT residents traveling the other way risked paying heavy fines from NSW Police. “Canberra residents cannot host visitors from NSW and Canberra cannot go on holiday to NSW,” she said. ACT Police will continue to patrol closed parks and recreational facilities in the territory, after discovering that about 100 people violated public health orders on Cotter Road and Paddy River Road last weekend. Acting Director of Detectives Hofmeyer said people who thought they could sneak through the ACT’s back roads should be aware that there will also be police on bikes. “If you decide to go down to Cotter Reserve or somewhere where there are big signs that it’s closed and there is a checkpoint set up, you could receive a fine of $5,000,” she said. Health authorities have again warned against people leaving their homes for non-essential reasons, ahead of a slight easing of restrictions this weekend. Tennis, golf, and kayaking are allowed from Saturday, as well as property inspections by appointments and increased tap and collect capacity. With the ACT recording 30 cases of the coronavirus on Friday, ACT’s chief health officer, Dr. Keren Coleman, acknowledged that it appears to be becoming increasingly difficult for people to stay indoors. “I think the longer we are in isolation, the more difficult it will be for people to quarantine and isolate, but they are also doing the right thing with public health trends,” Dr. Coleman said. Our journalists work hard to bring up-to-date local news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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