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COVID-19 leads to crackdown on Territory FIFO workers

ALL fly-in fly-out workers will need to have a detailed COVID-19 plan approved by the Chief Health Officer before they can enter the Territory.

The NT News can reveal the measure has been put in place after community concern about the potential dangers of FIFO workers spreading the virus to nearby communities.

Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby said some industries "simply must continue to operate, such as freight, food production, and some FIFO work."

"Shutting down these businesses completely will have a devastating impact on the Territory," he told the NT News.

"The nature of the virus determines that we can't completely remove all risks, but we can control the risks as much as humanly possible."

Under the rules, companies that need to bring workers from interstate must apply to the Chief Health Officer for each worker to be allowed to enter the Territory, and a detailed COVID-19 plan for those workers must accompany the application.

The plan must demonstrate that the company has established protocols that ensure the workers present minimal risk of spreading COVID-19 to the other workers or the broader community.

"FIFO's can only enter the NT under very strict controls," Mr Kirby said.

"Covid-19 plans are extremely detailed, are signed off by the Chief Health Officer."



The plans include:

DECREASING interstate FIFO workers to an absolute minimum.

EXTRA planes being used to ensure correct social distancing on board.

NO integration between Territory workers with interstate FIFO workers.

WORKERS being banned from entering communities.

WORK crews being restructured to enforce practical separation between and interstate FIFO Territorians during work, or break times.

RESPONSIVE management plans in case someone falls ill on site.

Mr Kirby said mine sites were closed communities and already had strict health protocols in place to manage the health of workers on site.

"The industry have been proactive and have extra health testing prescribed on site," he said.

"Under the management plans, mine sites must have processes in place to isolate an unwell worker or a suspected case of coronavirus to ensure it does not spread through the other workers or the community."



Mr Kirby said "some industries simply must continue to operate, such as freight, food production, and some FIFO work. Shutting down these businesses completely will have a devastating impact on the Territory."




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Exemptions for "essential workers" have been developed to allow those critical industries to continue under strict protocols that minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.

"We are working closely with the Land Councils to ensure community concerns have been addressed," he said.

"The Groote archipelago was last week completely locked down with no flights in or out for the next fortnight.

"Our government has highlighted from the beginning of this crisis that our priority is the health of Territorians, and that will continue to underpin every decision that we make as a government going forward."

Originally published as COVID-19 leads to crackdown on Territory FIFO workers