Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 13 JANUARY 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone

Look, today, with Dr Veitch, I’d like to provide an update regarding the status of our travel restrictions which are currently in place for greater Brisbane and the greater Sydney region as well.

Obviously, we currently have in place a medium risk classification for the Sydney region and, obviously, New South Wales authorities continue to work hard to get on top of the northern beaches cluster.

They’ve indicated in New South Wales it may take a number of weeks to get on top of that situation fully, and so we will continue to monitor the situation in New South Wales closely and there will be no change to the New South Wales risk settings.

That is that it’s medium risk.

If you travel to Tasmania from the greater Sydney area, including Wollongong, then you will go into quarantine in a suitable premise, if you have one. If not, you will be quarantined in a Government facility.

In regards to the greater Brisbane region, and I had hoped today to be actually announcing some better news in terms of the greater Brisbane risk settings.

Obviously, it was classified as high risk last week which, and I want to again make the point that being a high risk classification, you know, don’t come to Tasmania.

That’s effectively what a high-risk qualification is, as it stands, and I want people to understand that.

Importantly, given the circumstances that we are seeing in regards to this UK strain and the challenges that that is presenting in greater Brisbane, we are going to leave our settings in place as they currently stand at the moment.

Now, this is due, as I’ve said to Queensland, they have six cases of that more virulent United Kingdom strain and they have announced that they are relocating quarantining travellers from that particular hotel to undertake further quarantine and testing, and that they are seeking at around 250 people who were previously quarantining at that hotel, dating back to 30th December for they have a requirement for further testing and quarantine, as well as quarantine a further 250 people who have worked at the hotel since December 30th as a precaution.

Now, it appears that Queensland is obviously working very hard to get on top of this, but it.., and the point needs to be made that this UK strain is something that we have not faced before and it’s important that we get on top of and we take appropriate steps to remain vigilant and, importantly, to monitor what’s going on very closely.

As I’ve said, given the situation, we are going to maintain the high risk setting for greater Brisbane, and we’ll review this again next Monday.

We’ll also on Monday provide an update on the medium risk setting which applies to the greater Sydney region, noting that, you know, they seem to be picking up a couple of cases on a daily basis as they move along but, obviously, New South Wales have got a significant amount of experience in terms of their contact tracking and tracing.

So, we’ll provide a further update on both the Queensland and New South Wales border arrangements on Monday.

But at this stage, greater Brisbane will remain high risk, and greater Sydney, including the Wollongong area, will remain medium risk.

The other point that I want to make as well, in terms of the situation that has developed in Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor, anyone in Tasmania, and this would relate to someone that is currently in Tasmania that travelled into Queensland as an international traveller and then spent time in that hotel in quarantine, so anyone who has spent time as a returned traveller quarantining in Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor, dating back to 30th December, is asked to immediately self-isolate and to contact Public Health here in Tasmania  and to arrange a test.

The risk is obviously very low, but in terms of the steps that have been taken in Queensland, especially around the Hotel Grand Chancellor, anyone that has spent time as a returned traveller, so in this case, and again I’ll spell it out, it will be somebody that, a Tasmanian that has travelled back on either a repat flight or one of the other international flights, into Queensland, in that period, we’d like you to contact Public Health and to arrange for a test.

The other updates that I’d like to provide today is that last week we announced on the back of National Cabinet plans to be endorsed by AHPPC that the face masks will be required to be worn in indoor areas in all air and seaports.

What is pleasing and the Spirits of Tasmania, the two ferries, are already complying with that.

Importantly, Public Health are currently drafting, in concert with the other states, the legal direction that take effect at this decision, and whilst National Cabinet had a view that this would be implemented by the end of the month, you know, I’m hopeful that we will have that in place earlier than that.

This also includes, and currently we’re working with our airports to enable access to face masks on entry to our airport, noting that it already occurs with or seaport.

As soon as details of this policy are finalised, that will be once we have the directions finalised with Public Health, I will communicate that more broadly, but I would say to people, adopt the rule now.

If you are going to travel, wear a face mask into an air or seaport, ensure that you wear your face mask on a plane.

It’s just simple common sense.

Importantly, as we enter the New Year, we are still in a very good place in Tasmania, but I do want to make the point, and I know there was some questioning of the Health Minister in recent days about this and complacency, you know, I think Tasmanians in the main doing the right thing, but now is not the time to be complacent.

This UK strain is particularly concerning.

It is in terms of its transmissibility up to 70% more transmissible than the previous strain of COVID.

Now, what this would mean, and I want to ensure that Tasmanians clearly understand this, that we need to follow the social distancing rules, we need to ensure that we have good hand hygiene, that we cover our coughs and sneezes.