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Coronavirus in the Northern Territory: Financial help and advice

Find information on NT government coronavirus policies, state stimulus packages, business closures and more.

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warningWe’re working hard to provide the latest information on government announcements, stimulus packages and support for Australians across the country. However, the situation is developing constantly, so always check your local state’s government website for more details.

Northern Territory coronavirus help and contact information

This page contains information about coronavirus in the Northern Territory. We're updating it with the latest government announcements, stimulus packages and financial support for Territorian residents and businesses struggling because of COVID-19.

The Northern Territory has set up dedicated coronavirus help hotlines:

  • For general advice in relation to COVID-19, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • If you live in Darwin and need to arrange testing, call the Public Health Unit on 8922 8044
  • For clinical advice and to arrange testing if you live outside of Darwin, call the NT-wide coronavirus hotline on 1800 008 002
  • The NT government has also set up a coronavirus page with the latest information

Northern Territory state stimulus packages, financial support and relief

On 18 March 2020, the Northern Territory government announced a $65 million stimulus package aimed at keeping Territorians in jobs, with an additional $50 million fund announced on 23 March to support small businesses. This is on top of the nationwide stimulus packages announced by the federal government.

In announcing the package, Chief Minister Michael Gunner has stressed that:

"This spend is literally about jobs, not cuts. This is about saving people's jobs."

Here's what the coronavirus stimulus package from the NT government includes:

  • $30 million for the Home Improvement Scheme which will provide grants for Territorians who own a home for renovations. These grants will be operating via a voucher system where homeowners who contribute $1,000 of their own money will receive $4,000, or $2,000 of their own money for a $6,000 renovation voucher.
  • $20 million towards the Business Improvement Grant, where all eligible businesses will receive $10,000 and are able to receive an additional $10,000 if they spend $10,000 of their own money on business upgrades. This could be anything from buying new equipment to new shop fit-outs and physical changes to the storefront in order to attract more customers and grow their business.
  • $5 million for the Business Structural Adjustment package to assist businesses who need to physically adjust venue spaces in order to abide by the 100 person rule, as well as those that need to establish or upgrade their online presence in response to an increased demand for takeaway and deliveries. While any business can apply for this package, the Department will be putting preference on helping out businesses in the hospitality industry.
  • $5 million for the Immediate Work Grant which allows grants of up to $100,000 to be given to not-for-profit and community organisations to engage local businesses to carry out repairs, renovations and upgrades to their properties and facilities. The first $50,000 will be paid as a grant, with any additional renovation costs being matched by the NT government on a dollar-to-dollar basis until reaching the maximum total of $100,000.
  • $50 million to the Small Business Survival Fund which will deliver grants to help keep businesses afloat, even when they have to shut. More details on the fund are to be released in the coming days.
  • $2 million towards the NT tourism sector to assist with the heavy impact on industry as a result of COVID-19.

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Other concerted efforts announced by the NT government include:

  • Local tourism campaign. To be launched over the coming months in a hope to encourage Territorians to explore their own backyard, and in an effort to support their local tourism, hospitality and retail operators.
  • Suspension of government fees and charges. All regular increases to government fees and charges, including electricity costs, are to be put on hold until 1 July 2021. Electricity prices for small businesses will be frozen from 1 July 2020 to 1 July 2021.
  • Payroll tax exemption. The payroll tax exemption for hiring employees in NT has been extended to 30 June 2021.

In a surprising move by the NT government, there has been no announcement in regards to injecting money towards their health systems. The government is standing by its outlook that the NT health system is currently well equipped to handle cases of coronavirus.

For more on coronavirus help and information:

Current advice on schools, business closures and other restrictions in NT

School attendance

Following the health advice given by the federal government, NT schools are to remain open. From 23 March, parents have the option to keep their children at home without being in violation of education laws. Territory public and Catholic schools are still scheduled to finish Term 1 on 9 April, with school holidays ending on 20 April.

"I know a lot of parents are feeling anxious right now, during these times," Chief Minister Gunner said in a statement. "If you want to keep kids at home for the remainder of this term – that is okay. But they have to be at home. If they can't be at home or with you, please send them to school."

Business closures

On 24 March 2020, the federal government implemented a shutdown of non-essential businesses nationwide to be in effect from midnight 25 March 2020. This means that the following are now closed:

  • Auctions and open house inspections
  • Cinemas and entertainment venues, including casinos and nightclubs
  • Galleries, museums, libraries and swimming pools
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Amusement parks and arcades, as well as indoor and outdoor play centres
  • Outdoor and indoor markets; food markets are exempted
  • Personal services such as tanning, nail salons, massage and tattoo parlours
  • Pubs, registered and licensed clubs
  • Places of worship and religious gatherings

In relation to specific closures in the Northern Territory, the NT Correctional Services is suspending all social visits to prisoners from 25 March at the Darwin and Alice Springs Correctional Centres, and the work camps at Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy.

As of 26 March, Kakadu and Uluru national parks will be closed to the public. High-use areas in other national parks, including Litchfield, will also be off-limits.

Restrictions have also been placed on the following:

  • Shopping centres – food courts closed, but restaurants and cafes still trading as takeaway only
  • Boot camps and personal training sessions limited to 10 people
  • Weddings restricted to only the couple, witnesses and the celebrant (no more than 5 people)
  • Visits to houses should be limited, or in instances that cannot be avoided, must be kept to a very small number of people
  • Funerals restricted to no more than 10 people

The Northern Territory Supreme Court has suspended all new trials that require a jury until 5 June. Anyone who has received a jury duty summons during April will no longer need to attend, but should expect a summons for when jury trials recommence. Current trials where a jury has already been selected and empanelled will continue.

On 29 March 2020, the federal government announced the following updates to restrictions:

  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 2 people. Exceptions include people living in the same household, family units, weddings (maximum 5 people) and funerals (maximum 10 people)
  • Playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms are closed
  • Fitness bootcamps are limited to 2 people (including the instructor)
  • People are advised to stay indoors unless they are exercising, shopping for essentials, going to a medical appointment or going to work

It's important to note that essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, convenience stores, and freight and logistics services (including home delivery) are still in operation.

Self-quarantine information for travellers in the Northern Territory

The federal government has imposed a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for Australians who are returning from overseas, starting from 29 March. Regardless of your place of residence, travellers will need to be self isolated in an appointed hotel at wherever their first port of landing is.

In the Northern Territory, the government has also enforced strict border controls at all road, rail, air and sea access points.

If you arrive at a Northern Territory border, you must self-quarantine for 14 days unless your situation is covered by an exemption category. This quarantine is enforceable by law, with fines up to $62,800 for non-compliance. Tougher measures were also announced on 26 March in relation to access to remote communities. Anyone who is not an essential service worker must now self-isolate for 14 days prior to entering, including residents who wish to return home.

Those who are exempt include:

  • National and NT security and government officials
  • Health and emergency services personnel
  • Transport, freight and logistics workers
  • Defence and policing units
  • Flight and freight crews
  • People with specialist skills that are critical to maintaining key government services, industries or businesses

Territory resident FIFO workers who believe they fall into one of the above categories may apply for an exemption. Exemptions may also be granted on compassionate or medical grounds.

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in the Northern Territory

There are currently four coronavirus testing clinics open in the Northern Territory, all requiring appointments:

  • Royal Darwin Hospital. Clinics are available for testing through appointment. All patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are also currently being isolated here.
  • Katherine Hospital. Call 1800 008 002 for pre-screening requirements and to arrange a referral. Please do not call for general inquiries. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9am-12pm and 1pm-4:30pm.
  • Palmerston GP Super Clinic. Testing is available through appointment only.
  • A new drive-through clinic at a site in Howard Springs. The drive-through method is aimed to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus. You must set up an appointment by calling the Public Health Unit before showing up.

A site in Alice Springs is underway, but will only be accessible if cases continue to grow.

If you believe you present symptoms of COVID-19, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has directed people to first call through to the Public Health Unit on 08 8922 8044. You will then be advised of which testing clinic to visit and at what time to arrive.

NT Mental health support

During these uncertain times, it's normal to feel overwhelmed. If you feel that your mental health has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, professional help is available. The following free services can help you to manage anxiety or depression as well as provide you with a safe place to talk.

  • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
  • Beyondblue: 1300 224 636
  • Northern Territory Mental Health Line: 1800 682 288

Picture: GettyImages

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