The ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown will be extended until at least 17 September amid lingering concerns over community spread of the virus and the current outbreak in New South Wales.
The Territory reported 13 new local COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including at least eight that were infectious in the community.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the lockdown had proven to be effective but it was essential to keep it going to reduce the outbreak.
“We still have unlinked cases in the community and we still have cases who are infectious in the community,” he told reporters.
“We are bending the curve down and are getting on top of the outbreak. However, it is a slow process and it will take more time.”
Federal disaster payments of up to $750 a week, as well as jointly funded business support measures, have been extended.
The ACT has also tweaked restrictions to give people slightly more freedom starting from when the lockdown had been due to expire on Thursday.
Changes include allowing households of any size, or up to five people from different households, to gather outdoors for up to two hours.
Outdoor exercise limits will double from one to two hours, while “very small” funerals and weddings can also take place.
The ACT government is wary of the continued spread of COVID-19 across NSW, which has recorded another 1,164 local infections and three more deaths.
Among the new cases in the Territory, seven are linked to current exposure sites and six are under investigation.
The new cases take the total number of active infections in the ACT to 242. Thirteen people are in hospital, with three in intensive care.
Of ACT residents aged 16 and older, 42 per cent are fully vaccinated and 66 per cent have received one dose.
The chief minister expects to achieve 80 or 90 per cent vaccination coverage when the rest of Australia hits 70 and 80 percent thresholds, respectively.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Coleman was confident the ACT would lower its case numbers and keep them low, but health officials needed more time to find sources of transmission.