Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 28 AUGUST 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Our number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to keep Tasmanians safe and secure.

We’re in a fortunate position here in Tasmania, and it’s thanks to the hard work, patience and commitment of all Tasmanians that we are able to enjoy a more relaxed set of restrictions than many other states in Australia but, importantly, I want to remind Tasmanians that, you know, we are a long way from where Victoria is, but things can change in a heartbeat. Things can change in a heartbeat.

As we head into the weekend, many of us will be getting ready to go out to a dinner or watch our children play in sporting events and hopefully enjoy a little bit of good weather.

These are all important returns to a more normal life, but what we need to remember is that we must stay vigilant, we must remain disciplined, we must do the little things.

Remember to socially distance, remember to cover your sneeze and coughs, remember to have good hygiene.

It is so important that we do not become complacent.

Now, there are a couple of things I’d like to touch on today.

Firstly, I’ve revived advice from the State Controller in terms of our state of emergency, and we’ll be extending that until the end of October. That will allow an appropriate timeframe to review the ongoing threat posed to Tasmania from particularly Victoria, but also from other states as well.

At the end of October, we’ll conduct a review for the appropriate course of action dependent on the situation at that time as we move towards the 1st of December which is the date that we have specified that we’ll be looking to open our borders.

But, again, I’ll make the point, common sense will determine the arrangements in place on our borders at that time and, obviously, you know, if Public Health advice changes in the lead-up to that then there may be an opportunity for travel to safe states before that.

All of this will be based on Public Health advice, and Tasmanians should stick to the plan and that is that we’ll be keeping our borders closed until the 1st of December.

Dr Veitch will also provide an update on the public health emergency which is also due to time out shortly.

Now, in terms of borders and health checks. The circumstance as of the end of this month will be that we will now start screening at our airports and ports all arrivals into the state. So, we’ve said that on the 7th and the 14th of this month that we’re in currently that when we were considering opening to safe jurisdictions that we would introduce a range of measures.

We’re going to begin that process from this coming week, and what that will mean is that all arrivals to Tasmania, including all essential travellers, will have temperature and symptom checks at our air and seaports.

Anyone with symptoms will be requested by health officials to have a COVID-19 test and be directed to quarantine at their intended destination, for example their home accommodation or Government designated accommodation while awaiting their results.

Now, bearing in mind that for those people that aren’t essential travellers, they would be quarantined regardless. I want to make that point. Nothing changes in that regard.

Essential travellers from a hotspot such as Victoria, the nominated hotspots in New South Wales or now the Local Government areas that have been designated in Queensland, which are Brisbane City, Logan City and Ipswich, there will be a requirement to have a COVID test, and that will continue. It’s currently in place for hotspots.

Other essential travellers from non-spot areas will be health-screened and, if symptomatic, they will be tested as a condition of their entry and asked to isolate and wait for their test results.

In terms of the other arrangements for approved essential travellers, and this is all approved essential travellers arriving in Tasmania, they will be contacted by the Public Health hotline two days after arrival and every second day afterwards as a reminder to ensure they are still mindful of the conditions of their entry to the state but also in terms of ensuring that they are still fit and healthy and reminded and assisted to have a test, should they need one.

In terms of the circumstance in Queensland. On Wednesday, and I’ve just touched on it, the Director of Public Health identified three Local Government areas which were the City of Brisbane, the City of Ipswich and Logan City, and returning Tasmanians who have spent time in these affected areas in the 14 days prior to arrival back in the state are now required to complete 14 days quarantine in government-designated accommodation. That was put in place on Wednesday evening of this week.

Obviously, there are already Tasmanians in those affected regions who expected to be able to home quarantine prior to this announcement on their return, and so as a result we will not charge the mandatory Government hotel quarantine for returning Tasmanians who arrive home from those areas in the next seven days prior to midnight on the 3d of September.

So, if you’re a Tasmanian and if you’re in any of those broader areas of Queensland that have now been designated as hotspots and you want to return, you’ll be going into quarantine, as you would have understood on your return, but you’ll be going into Government quarantine. You won’t have to pay, if you arrive back in the state by midnight the 3rd of September.

Now, in terms of other matters that are in play today, no pun intended, obviously eight all and snooker and darts are away today, and I must say as a former publican, it shouldn’t have surprised me that people are very keen on these activities, but the number of Tasmanians that have raised this with me and said that they are so grateful to Public Health that they can now engage again in these activities.

Another one that is also available as of today, karaoke. Obviously with sit-down drinking in pubs and clubs, but karaoke is now on the list as well.

One other matter, and we’ll touch on this more broadly, but dancing is obviously an issue that is raised regularly, and I do want to at this point say that in terms of the concerns that Public Health have, I share those concerns.

You know, nightclubs have been around the world have been designated and have been high-risk areas and it is something that we need to manage very, very carefully.

And I know that there are many people, both young and old, that have raised concerns about this particular issue, but I do want to just ensure that people understand that the reason that dancing in nightclubs is not allowed is because they are seen as a very high-risk area and location and activity in the midst of a pandemic.

However, one matter that has been raised regularly in terms of dancing has been in terms of weddings, and I’m pleased to announce today that were able to provide a relaxation on the restrictions as they apply to weddings and the bridal party.

The couple getting married, along with parents, guardians, members of the bridal party will be able to have that dance which for many people is so very, very important.

I know the number of brides that have contacted me. It would be fair to say I haven’t had that many grooms contact me in terms of this particular activity, but the number of brides have and I think it’s a very good step forward in terms of ensuring that that first dance can occur for the bridal party only.

The other matter that I wanted to just touch on, the Government is looking very closely at the circumstance in terms of residential tenants, and we will have more to say on that shortly. I’d expect next week and, importantly, I want to remind people about the new Make Yourself at Home voucher.

This will become available, and at nine o’clock on Monday week, people will be able to register for the voucher, and I would encourage people to take up that opportunity and to see as much of this beautiful state as they can.

I want to thank Tasmanian again for doing the right thing.

This is difficult, I understand that. But I must say, and I took a walk at lunchtime today through our streets, and when you consider what’s occurring in Victoria or New South Wales or Queensland in terms of hotspot areas,  to be able to move relatively freely, appropriately socially distanced, without needing to wear a face mask, without having the same sorts of concerns that they have in other states and territories, I think is testament to the very good job that Tasmanians have done, and I would encourage people to stay the course, do the right things, make sure that they have good personal hygiene, that they cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow, importantly, wash their hands regularly and, importantly, remember to continue to socially distance.

And if we all take responsibility, we will all get through this.

I’ll hand over to Dr Veitch to make some comments.