Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park closes after planeload of tourists arrives from coronavirus hotspot; locals block entry to the park

| 04.08,20. 01:33 AM |

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park closes after planeload of tourists arrives from coronavirus hotspot; locals block entry to the park

Parks Australia has announced Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has temporarily closed after a flight from a "hotspot" flew into a nearby airport.

It's the first flight to have touched down in Yulara since March 26, but residents from remote communities have been calling for the airport to remain closed for the foreseeable future, to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.

If that was not possible, they were urging for the Park to close.

Locals created a blockade at the entrance to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park today. (Glenn Irvine)
Forty-two passengers were on board the flight, which arrived from Brisbane this morning.

The Northern Territory Government added Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan to its list of COVID-19 hotspots on Friday night.

CEO of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation Thalia Bohl-van den Boogaard said residents were "upset" by the arrival of the plane.

"We were under the impression on Friday and Saturday morning that flights from Brisbane would be suspended.

"There's no official quarantine place in Yulara, and we've made it very clear that the community doesn't want that," Ms Bohl-van den Boogaard said.

The passengers were met by four police members, Yulara Resort Management and three health representatives, a statement from the NT Health Department said.

"On arrival at Yulara, three passengers were directed to enter mandatory quarantine in Alice Springs and are being transferred by bus," Incident Controller Shaun Gill said.

"NT police, NT government officials and health authorities have been working with the remote communities across the NT to establish COVID -19 response and management plans specific to the needs of the communities."

Residents today used their cars to blockade the entrance into Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, and Parks Australia released a statement shortly afterwards, saying the Park had been closed temporarily.

"As these discussions continue and at the request of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will be closed from 1.30 today until at least 12.00pm tomorrow as all parties continue to work towards a resolution on this matter," a spokesperson said.

"We are continuing to work with the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Territory Government and Voyages to reach agreement on additional health and visitor screening measures within the Yulara township, at Ayers Rock Airport and departure points, which complement the measures we have already put in place within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park."


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