Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) has abolished vaccine passes in response to the high double-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate, as well as the decreasing cases and hospitalisation numbers in the area.
Earlier on March 31, proof of vaccination was no longer required for attending public events of over 100 people and sports venues but remained in most other entertainment venues.
However, this has now been completely scrapped.
“The Territory Vaccine Pass has been removed. This means proof of vaccination is no longer required to enter certain venues such as bars, pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, casinos, cinemas and theatres,” Chief Health Officer (CHO) Hugh Heggie said in a statement on April 5.
The infrastructure of the Territory’s Check In app will remain in place in case it is required in the future.
There are currently 2,951 active cases in the NT, with 550 new cases today and 18 currently in hospital. Of those hospitalised, two require oxygen, and one is in ICU.
The NT government extended their emergency powers in March for another three months, stating that there would be a long tail to the pandemic, and there are many people who are still unvaccinated.
“So the 90 days still means that we’re going to try and get everybody who needs to be vaccinated, and that’s the people who are actually going to be affected,” Heggie said.
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the NT Government intends to introduce a bill to grant the CHO extended powers to manage the pandemic emergency for up to two years following the discontinuance of the emergency declaration.
“We intend to introduce legislation in the March parliamentary sittings that will be a transitional provision of two years, so we anticipate this will be the last time that we sign the public health emergency that we have used throughout COVID,” she said.
However, Shadow Health Minister Bill Yan warns that the powers have gone too far.
“There is absolutely no way to analyse or verify what the Gunner government tells us when it comes to COVID,” he told the ABC.
“Currently, the government has had rolling emergency powers for two years now, and not a single report has been tabled to parliament.”
The CHO is required to report to parliament on actions taken during an emergency declaration within three months of the declaration ending.
Since it has been continually extended, there has effectively never been any reporting done.
The CHO said on Tuesday that he would continue to review and update the COVID-19 directions as required to ensure that the public health controls reflect the current situation in the NT.