Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 2 JULY 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Since our last update, we've continued to monitor the sitatuion across the country and our priorities - as I've said in this room on every occasion - has been the health and safety of Tasmanians, and we have responded swiftly and proportionately to outbreaks in other states in line with Public Health advice.

In terms of our borders, we continue to have restrictions in place for large parts of the country.

This includes Local Government Areas in Queensland, the greater Sydney area and several adjoining Local Government Areas in New South Wales, Western Australia, as well as high-risk areas or premises in the Northern Territory, Victoria and New Zealand still.

As we prepare to head into school holidays, I know that many Tasmanians will be waiting on updated advice in terms of their travel plans.

Now, my message today is, please stay across the restrictions and requirements we have in place here in Tasmania, as well as those in other states and territories and be aware of the risk that comes with travelling at this point in time.

Now, it's especially important that people have recently arrived in the state regularly check Tasmania's Coronavirus website for the latest list of high risk premises in other states and territories.

Those lists can be updated several times a day, as they have been over the last week.

Queensland has today announced that its lockdown will end for a number of areas in that state, however, it will continue for at least another 24 hours from Brisbane City Council and Morton Bay Local Government Areas.

There'll be advice provided by Public Health later today, once we receive the feedback from AHPPC but, look, it would be fair to say we have always taken a cautious approach and had a sensible lag following on other states lifting restrictions.

And so, look, I think it'd be reasonable to say that it's unlikely that we will lift the restrictions in line with those that have come off in Queensland later today until probably Monday.

But Dr Veitch will provide further advice later today.

It should be noted as well that the areas emerging from lockdown in Queensland will have restrictions on still for at least the next two weeks, and people will need to wear a mask when in public.

So, you know, if you are travelling to those areas, understand that there are restrictions in those areas.

Western Australia will be making an announcement about their lockdown later today.

Even though I've just been with the Western Australian Premier, I can't provide you with an update in terms of where they're at, but obviously their circumstance over there has been looking positive as the week has progressed, and that is currently scheduled to end at midnight tonight, but the Western Australian Premier will provide an update and the outcome of their deliberations later today.

Public Health will continue to review our current border restrictions with both Queensland and Western Australia and, as I said, provide updates in any easing of restrictions as soon as possible and will provide, certainly provide an update in terms of Queensland later today.

Now, National Cabinet.

We agreed to develop a plan to transition Australia's COVID response from its carried pre-vaccination settings to a future environment where we can ease restrictions on vaccinated residents, including border controls and lockdowns.

We agree that in principle the new plan would have phases, each triggered by the treatment of vaccination thresholds informed by the modelling that sits behind that.

It was also agreed, and if I could just make this point that we'll be having a further discussion at National Cabinet next week and over coming weeks in terms of what those thresholds might be, it was also agreed that commercial inbound passenger arrivals from overseas will be temporarily reduced to all major ports by 50% to reduce the pressure on quarantine facilities.

Now, that is the commercial flights coming back in.

In terms of the arrangements that we have in place with our seasonal workers, that program will still continue.

Now, the National Vaccine Taskforce will also establish a national business partnership to engage with business and industry to investigate opportunities to vaccinate as many large workforces across the country as possible, potentially to include workers in the aviation, interstate freight, transport and mining sectors.

That will start conversations with our businesses down here as well in parallel with that, but I think it makes sense, and if you look at the way the mines operate, in many cases, they are testing for a range of things on a regular basis and with a relatively static workforce.

Certainly in those minds that are running shifts with fly in fly out, that makes sense to do that, and we'll want to see what opportunities they might be here as well.

Now, from next week, we'll start to phase in the requirement for Tasmanians to check in via the check-in TAS app to new locations, as we announced earlier this week, including retail premises such as supermarkets, shopping centres, big box outlets, as well as accommodation premises, educational settings and aged care locations.

Our full list of the new locations will be finalised next week.

However, we expect all these businesses to phase in over the course of this month to the 31st of July.

You know, some businesses are currently utilising the check-in TAS app, and we would obviously encourage them to continue doing that, but we will work with businesses and bring them online over the course of this month.

In addition to the extended range of premises, people aged 16 years and older will be required to check in whenever they enter a premise, not only when they stay for longer than 15 minutes, and this change will come into effect from Wednesday next week.

So, if I could explain it this way, if I call in for a takeaway cup of coffee, I was.., in the past, I haven't been utilising the check-in app, if I call in to have a cup of coffee and sit down and read the paper and eat my breakfast, and I would check in if I was going to be there for longer than 15 minutes.

From Wednesday next week, if you go into a premise, use the check-in TAS app, so that we know where you've been.

Obviously, what we've seen occur across the country with the Delta variant, especially at times, there have been minimal brush-past contact which has led to transmission of the virus, and so, just important that as we get into the habit, if you’re going somewhere, use the app and check in.

Now, workers who enter their workplace, if their workplace requires the use of check-in Tas, will only need to check in once a day.

So, for example, I used the Parliament yesterday, I checked in, I was out a couple of times throughout the day, but once I'd checked in and that was my workplace for the day, then I'm on the system and, if necessary, I could be tracked in case, should that be needed.

Premises and businesses, including the new direction to use check-in Tas, will have to the end of July, as I've said, to have the QR code in place to support the use of check-in Tas by their patrons, so we'll phase it in for retailers, as I've said, but from Wednesday the 7th, those businesses that you would go in that you would.., if you were there for longer than 15 minutes, you would normally check into, use the app if you're just picking up a coffee or buying a newspaper.

In relation to vaccination, Tasmanians are heeding the call to roll up their sleeves.

We're almost at the end of Week 19 of our rollout, and close to 38% Tasmanians now received one dose and just over 12% are now fully vaccinated.

You know, this is good progress, we need to keep up the good work, so if there is an outbreak, obviously, we can have as many people vaccinated as possible.

I'm pleased to announce that over the next week, we'll be standing up dedicated clinics for aged care staff, and by the 21st of September, it will be mandatory for aged care staff to receive at least one dose of COVID-19, as we've discussed in the last week.

These dedicated clinics will ensure that these essential workers get the opportunity to get the vaccination.

There's no doubt that Tasmanians are responding positively to the program, and clinic bookings are very strong, and Kathryn Morgan-Wicks will provide more detail, more detail in terms of the program as we move forward, especially in relation to the work that we're doing with pharmacists.

So, the message remains, don't wait, vaccinate.

If we continue to build on the good work, we will be in the best position possible to keep on top of COVID-19.

And the final message to Tasmanians, as school holidays begin, please keep up our COVID safe behaviours.

Use the check-in TAS app to record your visits to venues, stay home and organise a test if you have any flu or cold-like symptoms, wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes and, importantly, stay at home if you're unwell.

I'll now hand over to Dr Veitch who’ll provide an update on the latest information from around the country, followed by Kathryn Morgan-Wicks who’ll provide an update on vaccinations.