Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 2 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Our number one priority is to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians. The best way that we can do this is to ensure that every Tasmanian stays home as much as they can. If you’re staying home, it saves lives.

While our coronavirus response is fast-moving and ever evolving, I’m conscious of the need to provide as much certainty as we can during this time. I’m also conscious of the need to effectively balance Tasmania’s health, economy and personal liberties in this battle that we’re all facing. It’s not an easy task. So, today and in the coming days we’ll be taking some additional measures which I hope will provide both the clarity and certainty to both individuals, families and businesses moving forward.

The overriding message has not change. Stay home, unless you need to leave your house to go to work or to volunteer, to collect essential supplies or for medical reasons. If you need to go to school or to study or, importantly, if you need to exercise. Otherwise, stay home.

The most important thing that we can do is to ensure that we appropriately social distance, that we ensure that we have as little interaction as we can with groups of people or with movement across the state. And so today, I’m announcing the following change to services and businesses that have a greater social interaction risk. And I’ll begin with racing.

In terms of racing, both greyhound and horse racing, that will cease, effective immediately. This will result in the cancellation of tonight’s greyhound meeting at Elwick. Many industry participants will be eligible for federal and state support because they r businesses, and TasRacing will in coming days announce measures to further assist industry participants in the coming days of ensuring that there are strong measures in place in terms of the welfare of animals.

While race control meetings will be cancelled for at last the next four weeks, those industry participants who are responsible for the welfare of racing animals will be able to continue their important work. This will include obviously veterinarians, farriers, those who feed the racing animals, those who keep them in work in order to keep them fit and healthy. Training facilities will remain open. These are businesses. And I want to just provide some context here. Race meetings draw people from all over the state. Many of them that live in regional and rural Tasmania. What we don’t want to do is to increase the risk to those regional and rural communities, nor increase the risk of a group of people, albeit they have worked through this responsibly to this point, coming together at one location as they have been for race meetings. So, effective immediately, racing in Tasmania will stop.

I also want to provide some further clarity regarding farmers markets. I understand that there is the farmers market in Hobart has already taken some steps on advice, I understand, to make some changes. But I want to be clear in terms of this, markets can continue to operate only for the purpose of selling fresh food or produce only, and that’s food that can only be consumed at home or at another premise. Food vans will no longer be allowed at farmers markets. Mobile food vans will not be able to operate. The markets will need to adhere to strict stringent social distancing measures, both in their configuration and good customer hygiene. In terms of the Hobart farmers market which is planning to run on Sunday, I would encourage them to get in touch with the Director of Public Health and to work through these new rules. I think with sensible social distancing and agreement in terms of the rules regarding fresh produce, the market will still be able to continue, but it will be only that, one for fresh food or produce only.

In terms of a number of other closures linked to the racing industry, TAB and UBET stores will close, effective at 6pm tomorrow night, and I know a number of them have already been closed.

Garage sales, from 6pm tomorrow evening, will be prohibited.

Sex workers, from 6pm tomorrow evening, they will not be able to operate either.

Just want to touch on another industry matter. In terms of recreational scalloping. The season is due to open this weekend. I’m sorry to say this, but the season will not be opening. The recreational scallop season usually has several thousands, more than 3,000 people are licenced, and they’ll normally head to small communities on the East Coast predominantly. We don’t want to have people travelling around the state, nor do we want people moving into those smaller communities, and so the scallop season will not open this weekend. Commercial fishing can continue, and there is no intention to close commercial fishing, but recreational scalloping will not take place this year.

National Cabinet will be meeting tomorrow, and we’ll be discussing whether or not we need to take further measures in respect of front facing retail operations. And discussion will be had. Victoria has a view on this, and we’ll be engaging with the other State Premiers and First Ministers in terms of looking at the future of the retail sector. In many cases, many small businesses have already decided to make the decision themselves and close, but we need to pay special attention to shopping centres, especially we will obviously need to have supermarkets and whitegoods stores open, but there’ll be discussion tomorrow about the broader future of the retail sector.

I want to say to Tasmanians that I take no pleasure at all in forcing businesses to close or industries not to operate or in telling Tasmanians what they can or cannot do. These announcements today will impact thousands of more Tasmanians, and our economy, unfortunately will take another blow. But again, and I want to stress this, we are in the battle of our lives. It’s critical that no stone is left unturned, however difficult it might be. If we continue to take these steps, if we continue to work together, if we continue to abide by the rules, then we will all get through this. But we’re going to need to work together, and I would ask Tasmanians to do that with me.

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