Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 OCTOBER 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Our number one priority throughout COVID-19 has been to protect the health and safety and wellbeing of Tasmanians, and as we prepare for our borders to open on Monday, that priority remains unchanged.

As of 3pm today our new traveller registration system ‘Tas e-Travel’ has gone live, assisting those travelling to understand guidelines and expectations for arriving into Tasmania, dependent on where they’re travelling from.

From Monday 26 October 2020, Tasmania’s border restrictions will continue to be based on areas where travellers have spent time prior to arriving in in our state, with areas classified as either low, medium or high-risk.

This risk level is determined by the number of COVID-19 cases or the level of community transmission in those areas, as well as public health advice.

Currently, low-risk areas are Queensland, the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

And today I can confirm that New Zealand will also be classified as low risk under these guidelines.

This means that incoming travelers from these low risk jurisdictions will not need to quarantine, subject to screening at the border – as long as they have not spent time in medium or high risk areas in the 14 days prior to arriving in Tasmania.

It will also mean travelers from those low risk jurisdictions currently in hotel or home quarantine will no longer need to from Monday, 26th October, and they will only be charged pro-rata for their accommodation if they’ve been in Government accommodation.

The Tas e-Travel registration system and information is available for travelers from low risk areas, and can be found on www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

Travelers from medium and high-risk areas will still be required to provide their details via the G2G PASS system that has been in operation now for some time.

As I said last week, NSW is currently a medium-risk area with the requirement to quarantine on arrival, however from 26 October, the quarantining will be able to be done at a suitable premises, such as a private residence, if that is available – otherwise it will be in Government quarantine.

And, as I have indicated, we expect our borders to relax with NSW, at this stage planned for the 2nd of November, however, further advice will be provided early next week on NSW.

Victoria remains a high-risk area, as do overseas countries (other than New Zealand), along with cruise ships, and travellers from these areas or premises must provide the appropriate information to determine entry and quarantine requirements.

People travelling from low-risk areas will be able to transit directly through medium or high-risk areas, for example, someone coming from South Australia direct through Victoria, stopping for fuel but landing at the Spirit terminal to travel.

I’d also like to touch on what travelers can expect when they arrive in Tasmania from Monday, so there’s no surprises.

On arrival in the terminal, passengers will undergo health screening, including temperature checks and questions regarding whether they have any symptoms.

Those who have symptoms will be requested to get a test and isolate until the result is known.

Now I want to speak about holding events in a COVID safe way.

Each of us has played an important role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 in Tasmania, and it’s because of that hard work that we’re now in a position to start planning for larger events again.

In collaboration with the sports, arts and events sectors, the Tasmanian Government has developed a framework for larger-scale COVID safe events, which will enable organisers to apply to hold an event where patron attendance exceeds the current gathering restrictions, under one of the following levels for each of the levels I will outline, COVID Safe plans will need to be in place.

At Level 1, which will require, at the current rules, a COVID Safe Plan:

  • Free moving outdoor events can have up to 1,000 people.
  • Free moving indoor events can have up to 250 people.
  • Seated indoor events, for example a theater, can have up to 50% capacity to a maximum of 500 people.
  • Seated outdoor events, up to 50% of the capacity of the venue, can have up to maximum of 2,000 people.
  • And events in Level 1 with multiple separate areas or across multiple sites can have up to 2,000 people as well.

That’s Level 1 and broadly, that’s in line with where we are at the moment, apart from the fact that theaters and other indoor venues, seated indoor events can have up to 50% capacity.

Level 2, which will require an application, to be approved and signed off by State Growth and Communities Tasmania.

  • Free moving indoor events can have up to 500 people. That could be a trade show, for example.
  • Free moving outdoor events, can have up to 2,000 people.
  • Seated indoor event, can have up to 50% capacity, so a larger theater, can have up to a maximum of 1,000 people, but only up to 50% capacity.
  • Seated outdoor events, can have up to 50% capacity to maximum of 5,000 people.
  • Events with multiple separate areas, or across multiple sites, can have up to 5,000 people. That could be for example, a smaller country show that would normally have three or four thousand people, that can be captured within this framework, but again there needs to be the social distancing rules and it will need to be signed off and receive approval from State Growth and Communities Tas.

Level 3 will require an application that needs to be signed off by Public Health.

  • Free moving indoor events can have up to 1,000 people.
  • Free moving outdoor events can have up to 5,000 people.
  • Seated indoor events can have up to, again, at 50% capacity, a maximum of 2,000 people.
  • Seated outdoor events can have up to 50% capacity, to a maximum of 10,000 people. For example, I would think, UTAS Stadium might fit that category, but again, 50% would be around seven or eight thousand in its seated capacity.
  • Events with multiple seated areas on one site or across multiple sites can have up to 10,000 people in total.

What this means, is that the Hobart, Devonport and Launceston Cups can put forward applications, and seek Public Health advice in terms of proceeding.

I met with representatives of the Launceston Cup yesterday who were very keen to tell me that they carry the largest attendance of all the Cups in Tasmania – and I’m sure that’s debatable depending on which Cup you’re involved with – but they have put forward a plan to be assessed by Public Health which has a series of designated areas.

I want to make this point, that whilst these larger events can go ahead, they will not be conducted as per normal. They will be conducted in a COVID normal way moving forward. That’s important for us all to recognise and understand.

Importantly, the social distancing requirements will still apply, regardless of the caps that I’ve spoken about.

The major Cups can go ahead, we plan to have major music festivals.

Importantly, it provides a framework for the Sydney to Hobart to operate in as well. And for crowd sizes to be of a significant size for Big Bash Cricket and other sports over summer.

I do want to stress, though, these events will need to be well managed. And after having spent time at the TSL Grand Final last weekend, I want to make the point that that was very well organised – there were some learnings that will come out of it, I’m sure – but I met with both Public Health and Events Tas on the day at UTAS Stadium, and it was very well organised, very well managed, 3,500 people, and I’m certain that under COVID rules that events will be able to move forward under these structures and be conducted successfully, and importantly, safely.

They will be different, they will be a COVID normal event, as opposed to what we’ve been used to in the past.

I want to speak just briefly about the State of Emergency.

The State of Emergency was put in place just over 7 months ago.

On the 16 March we declared a public health emergency and three days later, on 19 March, we declared a state of emergency.

This has enabled our response to be targeted and proportionate to the situation at hand.

The Public Health Emergency and the State of Emergency have been in place concurrently.

I have previously advised that our State of Emergency ends on Monday 26 October, and following consideration of advice that has been provided by the State Control Centre, we will not be extending the State of Emergency at this point of time.

However, the Public Health Emergency will remain in place.

Directions issued by the State Controller will continue to remain valid after the cessation of the State of Emergency.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Emergency status, which runs until 21 November, will, subject obviously to Public Health advice based on the current risks we face, likely this will remain in place while there remains COVID-19 risks in our community, and the need to have the appropriate responses and resources available.

As we have done throughout COVID-19, we will remain agile and if we need to step back in and elevate to a State of Emergency at a later stage, then we will do so. But at this stage, the Directions that we have in place are supported by the powers that the Director has under the Public Health Emergency, will enable us to manage as we move forward.

I want to touch on National Cabinet.

Today at National Cabinet we discussed the national approach to supporting Australians and Tasmanians returning from overseas.

As I have said, Tasmania remains ready to help should that be needed. If we have mercy flights coming back into this country, then I think that Tasmania should be prepared to do what it can. Once again, I reiterated that we will make a financial contribution if that were requested. That has not been required, and the Prime Minister has made that point.

However, in terms of moving forward, the other states will carry the load at this stage. If Tasmania were required, if there were an emergency or an emerging situation, I agreed with the Prime Minister that we would discuss that, and if need be, Hobart could be used. But – to coin a phrase that the Prime Minister himself might have used earlier in the piece – we would be the “break glass in emergency” option in terms of the repatriation flights.

But, as I have said, we stand ready to assist. I think it’s important, as I have said in this room, when Tasmanians who have wanted to return home, we have done what we could to accommodate that. And there is a significant number of Australians who are in distress around the world, and avenues are being opened up to bring them back to the country, but at this stage Tasmania is not required to assist in that effort.

We also remain in discussions about direct flights between Tasmania and New Zealand. Those conversations remain positive, and after a lengthy discussion with the Prime Minister this morning, that we will have further discussions in coming weeks in terms of the time frames and what requirements need to be put in place.

I did want to mention that there has been a request from the Reviewer, in terms of the North West Inquiry Report, for an extension.

The Reviewer has asked that I agree to extend the reporting time, and I have agreed to do so until the end of November. If the report is finished sooner, it will be delivered to Government sooner.

This is based on a number of factors including an extension that was provided for submissions by a period of two weeks, and the requirement for additional time to ensure that the people in organisations required for interviews can provide their evidence.

So we expect to see that report at the end of the coming month.

In terms of this weekend, Grand Final weekend. It is so important that we remain COVID safe. So important that we continue to do the things we know we should: socially distance, have good personal hygiene, wash our hands regularly, cover our coughs and sneezes, ensure that if you are unwell, do not go to any form of Grand Final function. Do the right thing, stay at home and get a test.

More than ever, it’s important now that we continue to do the right thing. We are in a good place and we need to stay there. It’s important that we all take personal responsibility. So again, I remind people, remember to physically distance, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you’re unwell, and don’t hesitate to get tested even if your symptoms are mild.

Don’t be complacent, and remember that we are in a pandemic.

I want to say, I was in the North of the State in the last couple of days. I want to remind people, as a Politicians, in fact all politicians, in fact all Tasmanians, love to shake hands. Don’t do it. Don’t. Elbow bump. Remember to socially distance. It’s so important. The rules are there to protect each other. Remain vigilant. Don’t become complacent, do the right thing. You might forget about the virus, but know the virus hasn’t forgotten about you. This is a deadly virus, it’s up to us to make sure we do the right thing to keep ourselves, the community, our families and the rest of Tasmania safe.