Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 29 JUNE 2021

Protecting the health and safety of Tasmanians has been a number one priority.

Over the past few days, we've been reminded that COVID-19 remains a real and ongoing threat to our way of life.

It’s reminded us just how quickly things can change and how important it is to ensure that we have our safeguards in place.

The Deputy State Controller and the Director of Public Health continue to monitor the situation and provide advice quickly to Government to take action when necessary.

In response to the evolving situation across the country, already we've implemented widespread travel restrictions, with areas or high-risk premises in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and New Zealand.

Testing rates have been high with our testing clinics, yesterday passing our previous record of the number of tests done in one day.

We conducted a total of 1,289 tests.

And, of course, our restrictions on gathering sizes and density limits for venues have served us well right throughout the pandemic remain in place as an additional safeguard.

We've taken a cautious approach in that regard, other states are now reintroducing restrictions. But our restrictions, as they stand at the moment, have stood us in good stead.

The situation in New South Wales has continued to escalate, and as a result our borders are now closed to large parts of New South Wales, in fact the majority of the population of New South Wales.

Travellers from the seven inner Sydney Local Government Areas of Waverley and Woollahra, Wooran, Bayside, City of Sydney, Inner West and Canada Bay have been unable to travel to Tasmania since last Wednesday.

Over the weekend, as we announced, our Public Health authorities responded again by strengthening expanding our travel restrictions with Greater Sydney and three other Local Government Areas being the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong.

This means anyone that's been in any of these newly listed high-risk Local Government Areas on or since 21 June in the 14 days prior to their planned travel is not able to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an essential traveller.

Anyone currently in Tasmania, who have been in any of these newly listed high-risk Local Government Areas on or since 21 June and have not attended a high-risk premises have been advised to isolate and to get tested for COVID-19 at least five days after they left the high-risk area and remain in isolation till they receive a negative test result.

Additionally, we've closed their borders to greater Darwin, and last night, the West Australian Premier announced that the Perth and Peel regions were going to lockdown in WA from midnight for four days.

Already, we have designated a number of premises in that state as high risk, however, as a result of the announcement by the Western Australian Premier last night, we're going to designate Perth and Peel regions as high-risk areas from 10am today.

If anyone wishing to travel to Tasmania has either been at obviously the high-risk premises, which they cannot attend, or in turn are in Perth or Peel, they'll not be able to enter Tasmania, unless they have an exemption that will apply to Tasmanian residents as well.

Our decisions on border restrictions will continue to be informed by expert Public Health advice and given the escalating situation, we’d stress to Tasmanians, if you don't need to travel interstate, don't travel.

Right now, we have a number of states that are scrambling to get on top of the Delta virus, or the Delta strain of the virus, importantly, use your common sense, if you don't need to go, don't go.

Furthermore, in terms of the challenges that the Northern Territory has been facing in terms of the mining outbreak, Tasmania has been managing three people, or the workplace of the confirmed COVID case that was employed at that Northern Territory mine.

These people have been contacted, placed into 14 days quarantine, they'll be tested twice during their quarantine.

I can confirm that all three have to date returned negative tests in the first round of testing.

Now, because of the rapidly changing situation across the country, from midnight last night, all travellers are now required to register their travel through Tas e-Travel no more than 24 hours before they travel, previously it was 72 hours.

With the changing travel restrictions occurring around the country, it is sensible that people leave their application through Tas e-Travel till that last 24 hours.

Importantly, that'll ensure that movements are up-to-date as possible, especially when in terms of the high-risk premises which are being added quite regularly to the exposure sites in other states and territories.

They're coming on almost hourly, and so I would encourage people to keep an eye on the websites.

In terms of the National Cabinet, last night National Cabinet agreed to mandate that at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be administered by mid-September for residential aged care workers.

We’ll work with the Commonwealth in terms of what the best mechanism is to ensure that that can occur.

It's our estimate that currently between 70% and 80% of our aged care workers have received their first vaccination, which would put us well and truly in front of any other jurisdiction in the country.

A COVID-19 professional indemnity support scheme will be established by the Commonwealth to provide additional safeguards to patients and medical practitioners.

I know the Prime Minister has also indicated that Australians under the age of 40 are now able to access AstraZeneca vaccine from their medical practitioner, following a discussion taking into account their individual circumstances, and that's effectively the same rule that was in place for under 60s that wanted to utilise AstraZeneca, have a conversation with your medical practitioner.

For everyone, regardless of whether you've travelled, and this is a very serious reminder about the important things that we need to do to keep our community safe, please continue to monitor yourself for any cold or flu-like symptoms, get tested if you develop any, even if mild.

I want to thank those that are working in our testing facilities and in respect to their border controls, they are doing a fantastic job.

Vaccination remains our most powerful tool in getting back to a more normal way of life, so today I'm again encouraging Tasmanians to make a booking, if you're eligible. You know, don't wait, vaccinate.

If you ever needed a reminder of the need to get vaccinated, right now is that reminder.

At the moment, we have appointments available. Our state clinics have forward bookings, around 59,000 appointments already, 34,000 of those are second doses.

We want more Tasmanians to book in.

I also recognise that the change in travel restrictions affects many Tasmanians, as well as visitors to our state, especially as we approach school holidays.

So, if you're planning or thinking of travelling, I’d urge you to factor the uncertainty of the current circumstances in your planning.

The situation around the country can change at any moment, restrictions and other measures can be applied here or in any other part of Australia that will prevent you entering a state or territory or require you to quarantine for 14 days.

Make certain if you are planning to travel, especially for leisure purposes, that you're cognisant of that. Be prepared and stay up to date.

Continue using the COVID-safe behaviours.

As I've mentioned, restrictions, there'll be a conversation taking place today between Public Health and some of our events organisers, just in terms of whether or not right now might be a sensible time to start wearing masks at major events.

That conversation will take place over the next 24 hours, and we'll be providing an update as soon as those conversations have taken place.

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