Telstra makes payphones and WiFi hotspots free over Christmas and New Years amid border closures

Telstra will make all 15,000 of its national payphones free to use over the holidays to unite family and friends amid border closures and lockdowns. 

The telecommunication giant is also making selected WiFi hotspots free during the same period from Thursday until January 1. 

The move comes after states and territories imposed border and travel restrictions on NSW, which is battling 97 coronavirus cases in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. 

A woman with a Telstra payphone. Telstra will make all 15,000 of its payphones across the country free from Thursday until January 1

A woman with a Telstra payphone. Telstra will make all 15,000 of its payphones across the country free from Thursday until January 1 

Telstra Foundation Head Jackie Coates said ‘this year has been hard because of lockdown and closed borders, and at Christmas, feelings of isolation and loneliness can peak’. 

‘Distance is an intrinsic part of this year’s Christmas season, but that separation doesn’t mean you can’t connect with your loved ones,’ Ms Coates said. 

‘That’s why we’re giving everyone a chance to connect with friends and family by making our payphones and selected Telstra Air Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge over the Christmas to New Year period.’ 

There are still 15,000 payphones around Australia, which make 11 million calls each year – 200,000 of which were to national ‘000’ services.

A Telstra payphone and WiFi hotspot next the beach. The telecommunication giant is also making selected WiFi hotspots free during the same period from Thursday until January 1

A Telstra payphone and WiFi hotspot next the beach. The telecommunication giant is also making selected WiFi hotspots free during the same period from Thursday until January 1

‘For many, especially vulnerable people like the homeless or those escaping an unsafe family situation, their (payphones) presence is vital lifeline,’ Ms Coates said.

While this year’s free payphone campaign will be particularly handy amid travel restrictions, it is actually a yearly tradition for Telstra.    

‘Last year’s initiative saw almost half a million calls placed for free on our payphone network during the Christmas period,’ Ms Coates said. 

‘That represents almost 1.2 million minutes of calls between family, friends and loved ones.’    

Telstra’s latest free payphone campaign comes after Western Australia reintroduced its hard border to NSW, meaning that no one can enter. 

A man walking his dog speaks at a Telstra Payphone in Avalon in the Northern Beaches, where there is a cluster of 97 coronavirus cases

A man walking his dog speaks at a Telstra Payphone in Avalon in the Northern Beaches, where there is a cluster of 97 coronavirus cases

Meanwhile, Victoria and Queensland have introduced permit systems for NSW residents to enter their states – while those from the Northern Beaches are banned. 

South Australia, the Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania require all travellers from the Northern Beaches or other NSW hotspots to undergo mandatory quarantine. 

Tasmania have gone one step further announcing that anyone coming from the Greater Sydney area will now also have to go into hotel quarantine for 14-days. 

Sydney’s Northern Beaches is currently in lockdown and cut off from the rest of the city. 

NSW reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 97 cases. 

People are seen exercising at Manly Beach on Wednesday. The Northern Beaches is currently in lockdown as it battles a cluster of 97 coronavirus cases

People are seen exercising at Manly Beach on Wednesday. The Northern Beaches is currently in lockdown as it battles a cluster of 97 coronavirus cases 

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