Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 20 JULY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Afternoon, everyone. With me Kathryn Morgan-Wicks, the Health Commander, and obviously Dr Mark Veitch from Public Health.

Now, as you're all aware, COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly on the mainland, and our priority here continues to be on protecting the health and safety of Tasmanians.

I know that I speak on behalf of all Tasmanians in saying that our thoughts are with those in New South Wales, Victoria and now South Australia and in pockets around the country as well, in Queensland in terms of hotspots.

Tasmania currently has strong border restrictions in place for the entirety of Victoria and New South Wales, declared as high risk in both areas.

We also have restrictions in place for a number of high-risk premises and exposure sites throughout Queensland.

And those people that might be either travelling to Queensland or coming home from Queensland, please continue to monitor these sites.

If you've travelled to Queensland or if you've recently returned, an update will be provided this afternoon in terms of the exposure sites in relation to Queensland, but we will continue to manage those on a hotspot basis as it stands at the moment.

But Victoria and New South Wales have today seen an encouraging downward trend in the number of cases confirmed, but have considerable work to do before their lockdowns can begin to be ease.

Now, Victoria have extended their lockdown by another seven days until Tuesday the 27th of July, and our restrictions will remain in place for this period at a minimum as well.

Overnight and this morning, South Australia has also reported five locally acquired cases and has today announced a state-wide lockdown from 6pm tonight for seven days.

In response, from 4pm this afternoon, all of South Australia will be declared high-risk Level 2 by Tasmania's Director of Public Health.

This means anyone wanting to travel to Tasmania from South Australia will not be permitted to enter from 4pm today, unless approved as an essential traveller, including returning Tasmanians.

For people in Tasmania who were in South Australia on or after the 8th of July, they are advised to immediately check the currently designated high-risk premises in South Australia.

Anyone who has been at one of those premises at the date and time specified should immediately self-isolate and contact the Public Health hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice.

To touch on Victoria, briefly, with the lockdown continuing for a further seven days, the restrictions we currently have in place will continue until at least the same period that their lockdown’s in place for.

There are, in terms of the exposure sites and for those people that are currently in Tasmania, almost 300 high-risk premises are now identified in Victoria, and if you've been at any of those premises at the dates and times identified, you'll not be able to enter, as we've previously discussed but, importantly, contact Public Health on the Public Health hotline.

Now, in terms of masks, and I just want to deal with Victoria and South Australia.

In terms of Victoria, if you return to Tasmania, you must continue to wear a mask until Friday at 11:59pm at this stage, noting that this may be extended, and there will be an update that will be issued on Friday in terms of mask-wearing, if you are in the state from Victoria.

In terms of South Australians, if you've returned to Tasmania since the 8th of July and are here in the state currently, you must wear a mask until 14 days has passed since you left South Australia, as long as you have no symptoms, and if you have symptoms, obviously, contact Public Health and speak to them and arrange a test.

Now, in terms of attendance at schools, given the extension in the mask-wearing requirement for those people who have arrived from Victoria, and with now South Australia being included as well, we now require this group of students and staff to remain away from school for the remainder of this week, with an update to be provided on Friday, noting that the Victorian mask situation has been extended until 11:59 on Friday night, but in terms of South Australia, we’ll provide an update then as well, but at this stage it's for 14 days since you were last in South Australia.

Now, importantly, for students there are learning-at-home resources available to impacted students to support them to engage in their education through this period.

We're not at school, it's important that those Tasmanians, noting that this requirement for students not to attend school is for all students, but the mask-wearing protocol that we have is for children under the age of 12.

It's important that those Tasmanians 12 years and older who've been in South Australia or Victoria must wear a mask when in public, limit their movements and the community and follow the Public Health advice.

I want to thank our students and their families and our DOE staff for the work that they've done to ensure that this challenging and unusual set of circumstances can be managed.

Now, we estimate that the requirements will only affect a small percentage of our student population, I understand that it’s little over 3,000 people in the state, Mark, I think that's right, that have returned from South Australia in that period, but obviously a larger cohort in terms of Victoria.

Now, in terms of travel, can I just remind all of those people that have recently travelled to please be vigilant, new high-risk premises are being identified on a regular basis, please monitor the Coronavirus website to review the high-risk premises regularly and, importantly, if you've been in any of those identified premises at the dates and times identified, self-isolate immediately and call the Public Health hotline.

If you have any symptoms, even mild, please get tested.

Now, I want to touch briefly on vaccination, and Kathryn Morgan-Wicks will cover this off in a little more detail, while we're almost at the end of Week 22 of the vaccination program, almost 44% of Tasmanians have now received one dose, and almost 19.5%, so getting very close to 20%, are fully vaccinated with two doses.

In terms of those Tasmanians that have had two doses, that's more than 85,000, nearly 86,000 Tasmanians have received a second dose.

The message I want to convey today is that if you work in the aged care and disability sector and you have not had your first dose, please make a booking today.

There are appointments available right now around the state.

Now, we continue to work with the Australian Government to speed up the rollout in disability care settings.

The Australian Government is increasing the number of providers offering in-reach vaccination services from the beginning of August to include three providers, speeding up the process.

We also have specialist clinics operating both in Hobart and Launceston at the moment, which include quiet days with appointments available this week.

You can also book in your community clinic, and 26 GPs are also offering the Pfizer vaccine.

Importantly, if you are a carer and concerned that your family member or person you care for may miss out on getting vaccinated, please make contact with us, and we will work with you to schedule a vaccination.

Tonight, you'll see the first of a series of ads encouraging Tasmanians to get vaccinated and, importantly, turn up for their appointment for the second dose, given that the second dose is vital.

We would encourage all of those that are due a second dose to ensure that you get it to ensure that you have the greatest protection.

So, just to recap, so South Australia, we’ll close our border and designate them a high-risk area from 4pm this afternoon.

And in terms of mask-wearing, the requirement for those who've returned from Victoria is being rolled over and extended to 11:59pm on Friday night, but there will be a further update on Friday, and in terms of those that have returned from South Australia and they're in the state, we'd like you to wear a mask, that will be a requirement and, importantly, that that mask needs to be worn for 14 days from the period from which you were last in South Australia.

I'll now hand over to Dr Veitch.                                   ***