Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 JULY 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Before we begin, I want to take the opportunity to provide my deep personal condolences to the family and loved ones of the Tasmanian man who passed away following a dose of AstraZeneca vaccination last weekend.

Mine, and I'm sure all Tasmanians’ thoughts, are with the family during what would be a terribly difficult time.

As we know, COVID-19 continues to cause challenges across Australia.

We have three states in lockdown in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

I know many Tasmanians have family and friends in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

So, my thoughts are with those states and their people, as they stay home to save lives.

We know swift action works and, encouragingly, South Australia reported just one locally acquired case of COVID-19 today, while Victoria reported 14 with all cases linked to the current outbreak, which is very heartening to hear.

However, New South Wales continues to deal with a very grave situation, reporting 136 new cases, with 53 of those cases infectious in the community, which signals, I think, that this is going to go on for some time.

As a consequence, our border restrictions with all three states will remain unchanged, meaning no one from those states is able to enter Tasmania without being approved by the Deputy State Controller.

We continue to carefully watch the situation in Queensland where one case has been confirmed in a Qantas flight attendant who travelled on a number of regional flights within that state.

Importantly, I encourage everyone who's been in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia or Queensland in the past 14 days to continue to check the travel alerts that are on the coronavirus.tas.gov.au website every day for sites they may have visited.

If they have, they must isolate and call the Public Health hotline on 1800 671 738 for advice.

As a result of the COVID situation in Australia, unfortunately, the New Zealand Government has today announced it will suspend the travel bubble with Australia for a period of eight weeks.

It's understood that Air New Zealand will work to provide its regular scheduled service between Hobart and Auckland this coming Sunday and Thursday, enabling both Tasmanians and New Zealanders to return home respectively.

I’ll just touch on mask-wearing for returning Victorian and South Australian travellers.

Travellers who've been in Victoria and South Australia, as we previously announced, on or since the 8th of July are currently required to wear a mask in public in Tasmania.

In terms of South Australia, for those who have been in South Australia on or since the 8th of July, this requirement remains in place, unless 14 days have passed since they were last in South Australia, and this requirement will be reviewed on Sunday.

Masks must be worn, unless the person is exempted, such as those under 12 years of age or those who have a valid medical reason not to wear a mask.

In terms of Victoria, Public Health has reviewed the requirement for travellers from Victoria.

Most new exposure sites in Victoria now relate to the last few days when movement from Victoria to Tasmania has been restricted and involves quarantine, and therefore Public Health has advised that the mask-wearing requirement for those who have been in Victoria on or since the 8th of July who are here in the state will be lifted at midnight tonight.

All people who have been in the state must remain vigilant however for symptoms and isolate and get tested, if they have any symptoms, as per the current directions and rules.

In terms to returning to school.

For those school students currently not attending school as a precaution, I want to thank parents and teachers, importantly, over the last weekend, also the learners themselves for working with us over the past week.

We know that attending school every day counts, and it's been, obviously, a difficult period in terms of what we've.., the circumstances that we've been in.

However, for return travellers from Victoria who were not in quarantine, those that would have been not attending school as a result of needing to wear a mask, the Tasmanian Government now advises that from Monday, the 26th of July, staff and students can attend their school.

However, we’ll continue to ask that travellers who have been in South Australia on or since the 8th of July that they not return to school until at least Tuesday next week at this stage, unless the 14-day time period has passed since they were in South Australia.

And a further update will be provided on Monday and, as I've said, we’ll be reviewing that situation on Sunday.

We understand that it’s critical to support those impacted students, and schools will be providing direct support to those families.

I apologise for the impact that's had, however, the safety of Tasmanians and the safety of our community remains number one aim.

In terms of vaccination, we're almost at the end of Week 22, and over 44.5 per cent of eligible Tasmanians have now received at least one dose, 20.4 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses, that's over 90,000 Tasmanians that have now had their two doses.

I just want to touch briefly on this, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, TGA, has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 12 years and older.

The decision was made following careful evaluation of the available data, supporting safety and the efficacy of the clinical studies that have been held for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age.

However, there is more to be done, and advice on the most appropriate timing of vaccination of children aged 12 to 15 years will be considered by ATAGI and the AHPPC in coming weeks.

So, it's flagging that it's being considered, there’s still more work to be done and timing will be brought forward so, from a parent's point of view, there's nothing to be done at this particular time, but we will continue to inform you as we move forward.

Our message continues to be: please don't wait, vaccinate.

You can book your appointment by visiting the Coronavirus website, clicking on the vaccination tab or by ringing Public Health on the hotline 1800 671 738.

Our existing network of vaccination clinics and GP practices will be bolstered by new community clinics to be opened in South Launceston at the Door of Hope Church from the 3rd of August.

This will give more options here in the North for people to access a Pfizer vaccination in the North of the state.

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