The cash-strapped Northern Territory government will spend $20 million on extra police officers to protect its borders, as Victoria's second wave of COVID-19 appears to have no end in sight.
The Northern Territory had planned to open its borders to the entire nation on July 17, removing the need for travellers to go into quarantine.
However Melbourne's second wave and coronavirus outbreaks in Sydney have led to all of Victoria being declared a hotspot indefinitely and Greater Sydney for at least another month, meaning travellers from there must go into supervised quarantine costing them $2500 if they show up.
Having to protect the NT's borders through quarantine supervision and compliance checks as well as fulfil normal policing duties is stretching the force's resources.
The Australian Federal Police have been helping but 70 of 102 officers deployed to the NT are due to leave this week.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner says 66 frontline officers will join the force along with 30 Aboriginal liaison officers and 10 Aboriginal community officers.
An extra 25 support staff will also be employed to provide administrative and welfare assistance to officers.
"In March when all this really kicked off, the National Cabinet worked to a six-month timeline, we thought this was going to be a six-month issue we're dealing with, but it has now become really evident in the last month it is not," he told reporters.
The advice he had been given by NT Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie was that a best possible date for a vaccine was the end of next year, he said.
"Obviously the hard border controls are going to be necessary for a very long time," Mr Gunner said.
Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said he would bring forward "on the job" training to get new recruits on the frontline as quickly as possible, to relieve police officers who've been manning remote borders all over the NT and unable to take leave.
Last week police arrested two men aged 25 and 54 who travelled to Nhulunbuy from Canberra but had allegedly lied and not admitted to having been in Sydney, which is a declared hotspot.
They have been charged and face a fine of $5,056 and possible jail.
Since the borders were opened to parts of the nation on July 17, 14,500 people have crossed into the NT with 350 of those coming from hotspots and placed in mandatory quarantine, Mr Chalker said.
Australian Associated Press