Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 17 AUGUST 2021

There's no doubt the Delta strain of COVID is posing significant challenges across the country.

There are 452 new cases in New South Wales; 24 in Victoria; the Canberra outbreak has grown to over 45; and there are three active cases in the Northern Territory.

Whilst we have no cases in Tasmania, we remain under constant threat to the risk.

That's why last week we announced that 4 Point Delta Shield Plan: stronger border controls; a vaccine blitz; enhanced testing, tracking and tracing; and a significant business support package.

Now, it's a very difficult situation for both New South Wales and Victoria, who are both undergoing prolonged lockdowns.

As I've previously said, our border restrictions will remain in place with New South Wales for the foreseeable future.

Victoria and the ACT have extended their lockdowns for two weeks and our border restrictions remain in place with them.

Victoria could be out for up to four weeks, depending on how they may progress.

This means now that anyone from Victoria or New South Wales, including the ACT will not be permitted to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an essential traveller, and those travellers will be subject to 14 days quarantine in a suitable residence or in Government quarantine in a hotel, if they are from a Level 1 jurisdiction or area.

A stay at home order also continues for anyone currently in Tasmania who returned here before 4pm on the 12th of August who has been in the ACT on or since the 5th of August, and yesterday from 4pm the Greater Darwin and Katherine regions in the Northern Territory also declared high risk Level 2 in response to that state's lockdown.

This means any person who's been in any of these Northern Territory municipalities has not been permitted to enter Tasmania from 4pm yesterday, unless approved as an essential traveller.

A stay at home directive has also been implemented for anyone who has arrived in Tasmania and was in the municipalities of Darwin, Palmerston and Katherine on or since 11pm on the 12th of August, arrived in Tasmania prior to 4pm yesterday.

In terms of Queensland, noting that there are two cases there today, one being an overseas traveller in hotel quarantine, the other being another person in quarantine but linked to a case from some weeks ago, Public Health has advised that after a number of days of no new cases of community transmission, those areas currently designated as high risk will be reclassified to low risk from midnight tonight.

All of Queensland will be low risk now, except for the high-risk premises that will remain listed until they expire after 14 days.

Information on those high-risk premises and sites, of which there are currently 13, can be found on the Tas Coronavirus website.

I'm sure this will be welcome news for many, and given the improving situation in Queensland and it's tighter border measures with New South Wales, Public Health now believes that there's a minimal risk to the Tasmanian community.

Our strong border controls are working, however, they continue to be tested by individuals who flaunt the law.

Yesterday, a woman from Sydney was the first to receive our new double on the spot $1,557 fine for travelling to Tasmania after having her G2G pass rejected.

It is as simple as this: if you don't follow the rules, we will catch you and you will be fined.

And I would urge those people that are trying to test our borders and enter Tasmania: we have very strong border controls in place, we will pick you up and you'll be fined.

If you come from a high-risk jurisdiction, you will be turned around, and you'll be placed on the first available flight.

If there's not a flight available, you'll be placed into hotel quarantine.

If you travel here without a G2G pass and a pass that’s been rejected in the past, you will be fined, it’s as simple as that.

The rapid border closures and escalating situation in some jurisdictions on the mainland has meant that our hotel quarantine facilities are being stretched.

We've added the Travelodge in Hobart as part of our portfolio of facilities, increasing the number of rooms available.

We're working through the final infection controls and how we will manage that facility but, importantly, when the Travelodge was previously in operation, there were some media that wanted to stand on the footpath and seek interviews with guests walking past -  that will be strictly monitored and police will be engaged to ensure that people can access that building appropriately to keep our community safe.

I do want to say to those who are considering coming to Tasmania, we want to ensure that you can do so safely, but it's important that if you don't need to come at this time, you don't come.

Follow the rules in the state or jurisdiction that you're in, stay safe, importantly, you know, we will manage entry to the state to ensure that we can provide a safe and secure quarantine available for you when the time is right but, importantly, also to ensure that we keep our community safe.

Importantly, we're going to introduce another border safeguard to strengthen our border controls and hotel quarantine from today.

Anyone who was approved to travel to Tasmania from a high-risk location Level 1, currently being, and I say there is a small number of returning Tasmanians and essential workers that are coming from New South Wales.

Those who receive a travel exemption to come to Tasmania and a G2G process will now be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their travel to Tasmania.

This test result will be able to be uploaded onto the G2G system prior to travel, but will ensure that yet another layer of protection and compliance is added to our already strong systems.

To be clear, if you're looking to travel here and you've been seeking a G2G exemption, if that's granted, you will need to have a test within the 72 hours that'll need to be in and an upload those results and, obviously, only a negative test result is going to enable you to come here from that high-risk jurisdiction of New South Wales as it stands at the moment.

A critical element of our Delta Shield Plan is the Super Six vaccination program.

That's well underway, our aim is to have more than 63% of Tasmanians having a first dose by 12 September and one we're on track, currently sitting at just below 54% of people that are eligible above the age of 16 having received their first vaccination and, importantly, almost one in three eligible Tasmanians are now fully vaccinated.

I'm pleased to announce today that our program is going to further gather pace with the establishment of two new Pfizer Super Clinics in Hobart and Burnie.

The Hobart Super Clinic will be held at Mac 2 on Macquarie Wharf on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of August, aiming to deliver over the course of that weekend around 2,000 doses, and the Burnie Super Clinic at the Burnie Arts & Function Centre will be held on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of September, delivering the aim of another 1,400 doses across that weekend.

I urge those particularly aged between 30 and 59 years who have not yet had your first dose of the vaccine to take advantage of these additional appointments and book now.

Our in-reach schools program will also start next Monday with a clinic at Elizabeth College, and one at Claremont College later in the week.

These clinics will vaccinate 16 to 18-year old students at their school.

We need to keep up the momentum, and I urge everyone to don't wait, vaccinate, and Kath will provide an update in terms of the legal consent requirements as well.

We've taken some further advice there and she’ll provide that detail later.

And finally, today, our $20-million business support package is open for applications from 2pm today for those businesses operating in the tourism, hospitality, arts and events, seafood and transport, hire car and coach tour sectors, impacted by reduced interstate visitation as a result of our necessary border restrictions.

If you believe you're impacted, having suffered a 30% decline in your turnover, please visit www.business.tas.gov.au to find out how you can register for financial support on that scale of between $2,000 and $10,000.

I just want to touch very briefly on football.

Importantly, on the weekend we had another successful weekend of football in the North, albeit under COVID conditions, and given the ongoing challenges being faced by Victoria after approval from Public Health, Tasmania will host the AFL match between St Kilda and Fremantle this Sunday at Blundstone Arena at 12:15pm.

The regular COVID safeguards, including a requirement that spectators wear masks, and the capped crowd will be in place.

The AFL COVID controls are well-practiced, and a charter flight for both teams using a sterile corridor will be utilised.

Fremantle will be coming from low-risk WA, however the protocols will remain in place, accepting that they can, like any other West Australian, fly in the day before the game.

St Kilda will, like other teams have, fly in on a charter flight the morning of the game, won’t engage with our community and will leave straight afterwards.

Players in the travelling group are subject to regular testing and, importantly, both teams will leave directly after the game is completed.

In summary, we know Delta is very challenging, we know it's unforgiving, you only have to look at the challenges that are being faced now in other jurisdictions.

Importantly, continue to be aware of your own personal hygiene and safety when mixing in large groups, follow the Public Health advice, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you're unwell.

Don't hesitate to get a test, even if you have only mild symptoms, as soon as the opportunity is there for you, please vaccinate, don't wait.

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