When I approach Ben* where he sits on a blanket on a brick footpath, he looks around for his mask and puts it back on before we start talking. He wants to make sure he's not breaking any rules.
Ben has just been eating lunch, delivered to him by the local Salvation Army in the alcove he sits and sleeps in. He and the people he lives with look forward to the Salvos' visit twice a day, delivering something to eat, food and news of the current COVID-19 outbreak in Katherine.
The town is in the grips of a heatwave, with a stretch of days above 40C to come. The sun is harsh and the heat radiates off the concrete.
But, Ben is used to it. He is originally from the remote community of Barunga, but he's been living on the streets of Katherine on and off since he finished a stint in prison in 2012. Now he's stuck between a rock and a hard place - he can't go back to Barunga because his family situation is complicated.
Meanwhile, he has been on the waitlist for social housing this entire time - nine years.
"My family smoke marijuana all the time, they depend on your money to buy them feed," he said. "On your own, you're ok."
And now, the virus that has killed almost 2000 people across the country and more than 5 million around the world has finally made it to this town of just 10,000.
This outbreak is the first time an Aboriginal person in the NT has tested positive, and the first time the virus has made it to a remote community. With misinformation and government mistrust ramping up vaccine hesitancy in some Aboriginal communities, this outbreak is the scenario that has terrified authorities.
Making the situation more worrying is the fact that Katherine has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, at 31 times the national average.
Ben, as an older Aboriginal man who is sleeping rough, faces a range of overlapping factors which make him one of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19.
And while the rest of the town is in lockdown in their homes, he has nowhere else to go.
On Thursday, four days after Katherine's current lockdown was called because members of an Aboriginal family in town had contracted the virus, NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker announced 50 rooms had been set aside for those who were "transiting through" during the lockdown.
Ben would jump at the chance to sleep in a hotel.
"I'll get to sleep on a mattress, have a shower," he said.
"If the government gives them a bit of money to put us in there, everything will be ok."
Meshach Reason came to Katherine from Beswick with some family a couple of weeks ago, and has been stuck in town because of the lockdown since.
The 43-year-old is vaccinated against COVID and proud of it, as are all the family and friends he sits with, despite what some people he knows have said about the vaccine.
Unlike a lot of the others, he has family in town to stay with at night, but he's still stuck in the sweltering heat during the day. Usually he would seek respite in the air conditioning of the Salvation Army hub on the main street, but it has been declared an exposure site and is closed.
But still, he recognises that he is more fortunate than others.
"It's hard, yeah, sometimes it's hot," he said. "Lord help other families."
Sambo Rockman's spot is under the awning of the post office. An older, softly-spoken gentleman, he shows me his ID card so I can get the spelling of his name because, as he tells me, he doesn't read.
He takes his cap off, smooths his hair down and puts all his belongings in his lap before I take his photo.
Mr Rockman grew up on a station in Western Australia and somehow ended up in Katherine where he's been now for "many years."
He's a bit foggier on the details around coronavirus, unsure about exactly how it spreads and what the lockdown means.
"I was thinking about it, is it like a smoke? in the sky?," he asks about the virus.
Mr Rockman does, however, know to avoid going to the pub across the road from where he sits, Kirby's, which was named as an exposure site earlier this week.
"That's why, I'm doing it for myself," he said. "Keep away from other mob."
Co-ordinator of the Katherine Salvation Army Hub, Eli Sherman, said despite their efforts to keep clients informed about COVID, ensuring they understand what's going on is one of their biggest challenges.
"I think education is probably something that's lacking," he said.
"There is an element of fear with the clients. Some of the clients are mentioning that it makes you crazy to get vaccinated."
Mr Sherman also said the town's housing crisis made containing the virus that much harder.
"There has been [a problem with housing] for some time," he said. "I think having some transitional housing would be very well needed in town, and maybe even an expansion on the current men's shelter, even a family hostel and the beginning of a women's hostel because there actually isn't one in town."
CEO of Katherine's Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Wurli-Wurlinjang, Suzi Berto, said she was hugely concerned for those in overcrowded houses or who didn't have houses at all.
The organisation, which provides services including clinics and transportation to Katherine and surrounding communities, also had to close its doors after it was declared an exposure site.
"There were clients that were going up to get tested and getting told to go home and quarantine. Well, they really shouldn't be going home to quarantine when there's overcrowding issues in their communities," Ms Berto said.
"There's limited space at Corroboree Hostel, and they're always fully booked.
"These are serious issues. And this is something seriously that the government needs to think about, having a quarantine centre here in Katherine that provides accommodation for clients."
For now most rough sleepers will have a place to go if they choose to but the pandemic has highlighted just how life-threatening Katherine's housing situation is.
NT Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing, Kate Worden, said the NT Government was working on making changes.
"One of my main priorities is to address public housing pressures in our urban centres. We have plans in place for additional affordable and social housing in Katherine and we will have announcements around this shortly," she said.
*Not his real name.
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