Australian Defence Force members will enforce quarantine restrictions on about 200 U.S. Marines who have landed in Darwin in an influx of foreigners that has become rare since the coronavirus outbreak.
To ensure the safety of the local community the Marines received a #COVID19 test, went through biosecurity inspections, and were placed in a 14-day quarantine facility in-line with policies established by the Australian and US Governments pic.twitter.com/tvOZOQQztZ
— MRF-D (@MrfDarwin) June 2, 2020
The ninth edition of the six-month Marine Rotational Force was paused by the federal government three months ago because of the pandemic.
However with Australia managing to prevent a large outbreak or loss of life from COVID-19, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in early May that a three-month version involving a reduced 1200 troops of the joint exercises called the “United States Force Posture Initiatives” would go ahead.
Strict guidelines for all of the Marines who arrived on Tuesday, and over the next eight weeks involve being quarantined for 14 days at an air force base in Darwin.
Each Marine will also be screened four days before departure, tested upon arrival in Australia and at the end of the quarantine period.
“With the first tranche yes, there will be a heavy presence of Australians (soldiers) and we have invited Northern Territory police and health officers to come and supervise quarantine,” ADF commander northern command, group captain Stewart Dowrie told reporters.
“Subsequent to the first 200 being released there will be more US Marine Corps people who can also assist in the supervision.
“I have no doubt the United States Marine Corps are a highly disciplined work force.”
Any breaches would involve both disciplinary measures and action by health authorities, Captain Dowrie said.
It was reported earlier this week that 6278 of U.S. service members were known to have contracted the virus, with three deaths.
The Northern Territory was declared free of the disease a fortnight ago and has not had any locally diagnosed cases for eight weeks.
The Marines will train with ADF personnel at training area around greater Darwin, including Mount Bundey and Kangaroo Flats finishing with a bilateral high-end war-fighting activity, Exercise Koolendong, Captain Dowrie said.
“This is a great opportunity for the U.S. military, Marines and Australian Defence Force to train together, to work on deepening their interoperability and work together in terms of responding to crisis and contingency in the region, including for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “Australia’s alliance with the United States is our most important defence relationship. It sends a clear signal about our commitment to the security and stability of our region.”
By Greg Roberts