Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 24 JUNE 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Today we’ll be providing an update on where we’re at with Stage Three lifting of restrictions.

Tasmanians should be congratulated for the way that they have worked to keep each other safe and that they have followed the rules to date, and I think that we are in a good place.

It’s been 39 days without an active case, and we have now completed nearly 45,500 tests; 656 tests conducted yesterday and certainly meeting on an ongoing basis over the course of each week the more than 500 tests that we said as being a reasonable number of tests to do.

I do want to make this point though very clearly: around the world, COVID-19 continues to carve what can only be described as a debilitating path. It’s devastating. More than nine million people now have had the disease, and unfortunately, nearly half a million deaths have occurred.

The virus is obviously not eradicated. There is no vaccine yet available, and I think that we all need to be cognisant of that.

In terms of the messages that I’ve provided every time that we’ve stood up here, for Tasmanians, make certain that you continue with good hygiene, ensure that you social distance from people, download the COVID Safe app to assist Public Health officials, should we need to track and trace and, importantly, get tested if you have even the mildest of symptoms or have had the mildest of symptoms.

We can’t be naïve to think that what is happening around the wold, what is happening in other parts of the country right now, may not happen here.

We can do everything that we can to protect ourselves against that, but this is a deadly, insidious, highly contagious disease, and we need to be mindful of that.

In early May, we released the road map to recovery, and at that time we penciled the 13thJuly to ease Stage Three restrictions. We’ll be bringing forward around two-and-a-half weeks the lifting of Stage Three restrictions to twelve noon on Friday of this week.

We’re in a very good position, and I do want to thank Dr Veitch and Dr McKeown for the very good work that they have done as our Public Health officials, as senior Public Health officials, along with the Minister for Health and all of those that work within her agency.

In terms of the restrictions, we are simplifying our restrictions moving forward, whilst at the same time provide significant additional freedoms in terms of the density limits moving forward. I’ll outline how it will work.

Firstly, gatherings of up to 250 people will be permitted indoors. With venues with multiple large spaces, able to work on a per space basis, meaning more people will be permitted, if there is separate spaces, separate restaurants, maybe a conference room, or maybe a facility that’s got a number of restaurants in it.

500 people will be permitted for outdoor gatherings.

Importantly, we’re going to introduce rather than the one person per four square metre rule, a one person per two square metre rule. That will apply both indoor and outdoors.

There are some instances where this won’t apply, for example, obviously the rules won’t change in terms of transport, nor in terms of other health settings.

This Friday, National Cabinet will be meeting again, and we will have further discussion on the issue of large stadiums and the 25% rule into large stadiums where people can be seated, which would be both indoors and outdoors. For example, Bellerive Oval for is a larger stadium and likewise, UTAS Stadium and also the DEC. But those matters will be discussed on Friday, and we’ll have further information to provide then.

Household gatherings will remain capped at 20 visitors, in addition to existing household members.

It’s obvious that it’s been challenging for Victoria, and it’s one matter that we would ask people to be sensible with and to use their common sense. It’s important that they do so.

Casinos and gaming venues will be able to open, with appropriate distancing measures in place.

Markets can open, subject to gathering limits, as can food courts with food vans, once again able to operate at markets, again with sensible social distancing rules.

Garage sales and car boot sales can resume, but we’d ask people to use their common sense and to ensure that people appropriately socially distance.

Spas, bath houses may reopen, including one that I must admit I never had the pleasure of this experience, a floatation tank. They can open as well.

I’m also very pleased to say that outdoor and indoor community competitive sport can resume, including contact sport and training, with a total number of 500 people for outdoor venues and 250 for indoor venues, including pools, in a single indoor space.

Change rooms and showers have been something that have been raised on multiple occasions over the last period. Change rooms and showers can be used once more, although people are urged to exercise good hygiene and be cautious, and the strong guidance is that if you don’t need to use them, don’t use them.

I do acknowledge that with football starting again and players playing in some of the conditions that we’ve had in current days, that a hot shower at the end of the game rather than getting into your car dripping wet and with mud all over you is probably a sensible way forward. But, again, use common sense and the strong guidance is that if you don’t need to use the facilities, don’t use them.

As I’ve also committed, on Friday we’ll provide an update on the plan for the relaxation of our border restrictions.

Our borders can’t remain closed forever, but we need to ensure that we step back into this cautiously and sensibly, and we’ll have more to say on Friday.

We’re taking advice on a day-by-day basis at the moment, as we move towards Friday and setting a date.

It’s important that we’re cognisant of what’s happening around the country, and I do want to say that we acknowledge and recognise the challenge that Victoria is facing at the moment.

As I indicated in Parliament this morning, the Victorian Premier contacted me last night to ask for any assistance that we might be able to provide with what is a very difficult situation, and we’ve indicated that we’ll be able to provide some couple of hundred, possibly up to 300 additional tests per day, if they want us to do those on their behalf.

I know that they’re also working with New South Wales, and South Australia have also provided contact tracing and tracking assistance to them as well.

The reproductive number that’s occurring there at the moment, which has been talked about publicly, is now over 2.5. There is a very real risk that if they don’t get on top of this that they could see exponential growth over coming days, and it’s something that we need to be very mindful of here in Tasmania.

I want to place on the record very firmly, as we move to this next stage of an easing of restrictions, my thanks to Public Health.

Dr Veitch and his Deputy Dr McKeown have been extraordinary in terms of their service to the public through this and have provided sage, sensible and what I think has been extraordinarily well-informed advice every step of the way, and we will continue to take their advice, and I thank them for that.

As we move forward, and I want to send this message to Tasmanians very clearly, it is so very important that you do not simply think that this is over.

Have a look at what’s occurring in Victoria, have a look what’s occurring in South America, what’s occurring in South Africa at the moment, the impact that it’s had in Europe, where it’s impacting on Indonesia. The body count continues to rise.

This is a dangerous and insidious and highly infectious disease, and it is important that each and every one of us continues to do the little things that we had learned and formed habits with over the last couple of months.

Wash our hands regularly, have good personal hygiene, ensure that we socially distance. Be responsible.

Everybody can determine how close somebody else gets to them. You can determine that you’re going to look after your health and you follow the rules and make certain that you protect yourself and your family and your loved ones.

Our health system preparedness is very good, should we see a further outbreak of this disease in the State. Our contact tracing and tracking is ready to go. We have a rapid response team in place. We are well placed to manage this disease moving forward.

But, importantly, everybody has a role to play, and I would continue to encourage Tasmanians to do everything that they can to protect themselves, their community, the people that they love, by following the rules that we’ve outlined.

Obviously, not all restrictions are coming off, and we’ll continue to review them on an ongoing basis, with another review in the next three to four weeks.

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