Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 10 SEPTEMBER 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

We've aimed from Day One to keep Tasmanians safe and secure, as we work our way through COVID.

I'm very pleased to be able to say that we are reporting that we have no cases in Tasmania, and this includes the testing of those on the UK flight in quarantine, who have all so far tested negative. In fact, all of them have been tested and all tests are so far negative, which I’m very pleased about.

We're keeping a watchful eye on other states and territories.

Regional Victoria is now open, apart from Shepparton.However, I understand that they’re having, once again, more than 330 cases in Victoria today, and we will keep an eye on what's going on there, and there'll certainly be no knee-jerk reaction in terms of reopening to Victoria at this stage.

We’ll rely on Public Health advice, and we'll keep that under consideration moving forward.

In terms of other states, what is, the ACT are a High Risk Level 2.

Queensland, WA and South Australia are all listed as Low Risk, but all have some premises which are declared High Risk Level 1, and again I'd remind those who are travelling to ensure that they consider those matters and keep an eye on the website.

Northern Territory likewise is listed as Low Risk.

New South Wales remains High Risk Level 1.

I understand again today that they had another day with more than 1,500 new cases.

That will be challenging.

They have obviously rolled out their roadmap which we will continue to keep under very close watch in terms of how they are progressing there, but again, no change to any of the settings regarding that state currently.

Today, I want to announce that we'll be providing further protection for those Tasmanians who attend large gatherings, and from one minute past midnight next Friday night, it will be mandatory now for people who attend events of 1,000 people or more to wear masks, and that will be, mask wearing will be compulsory for people who attend indoor or outdoor events where 1,000 or more people are attending.

I think it's a very sensible decision, and to make facemask compulsory reduces the risk of COVID-19 under the current circumstances and those settings, and I think it's just something that we're going to need to get used to.

Importantly, in terms of mandatory vaccinations, I said that we’d provide some further detail this week after work had been undertaken to define the group working, and Kathryn Morgan-Wicks will provide some further detail in terms of where we're up to in that regard.

I want to also talk about the matter of exemptions.

And I want to be clear, as was made clear by the Government yesterday, that there will be no recognition of conscientious objection in the existing mandatory vaccination directions.

We're mandating this for a reason, we want to keep people safe.

Now, vaccination remains a key step towards the COVID normal way of living, and Tasmanians continue to do the right thing, and I was delighted to report earlier this week that we passed our target of 63% of Tasmanians having had a first COVID vaccination.

When I announced the vaccination blitz as part of Operation Delta Shield a little more than four weeks ago now, we were able to reach that target by mid-September, so by next week, so we're actually a week in front.

And as of today, we now have more than 64% of Tasmanians, who’ve now had their first dose and, importantly, around 47% have had their second dose.

Importantly, in respect of our vaccination program, we expect to achieve 70% with a first dose vaccination in the next seven days, and we expect to have 70% of our population fully vaccinated now by around mid-October.

What that will mean is that as long as people keep turning up, and I need to stress this, as long as people keep turning up, that we should have reached 80% of people being fully vaccinated sometime in late October or early November, which will be a number of weeks in front of where we thought that we were going to be.

But the clear message is: please keep turning up.

In terms of the work that our State Health people have been doing, along with GPs and now with pharmacies, it's been tremendous to see the fact that Tasmanians are in fact the only state that has not had an outbreak that it’s had to deal with over the last 12 months. In large parts of the time throughout this process, we have led the country, and we are still one of the leading jurisdictions albeit, when you look at New South Wales, they are starting to pick up some pace for obvious reasons.

So, importantly, don't wait, vaccinate, turn up.

As of next week, we will be starting to vaccinate the 12 to 15 cohort, obviously, those with underlying health conditions and other reasons have been able to receive vaccinations so far.

There are around 21,000 Tasmanians who are in that in that category, and what we intend to do, as they are not part of the 70% or 80% targets, as we start to vaccinate that cohort, we’ll provide separate advice in terms of the percentage of that cohort that have been vaccinated, so there's full disclosure, people can see quite transparently where we are across our community from 12 years of age and up.

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