Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 26 MAY 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone. Today, I am joined by Dr Veitch, Secretary of the Department of Health Kathryn Morgan-Wicks, and I also have with me Gary Swain who’s the Deputy Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, and once we finish the COVID address, there’s an update, an urgent update, that I need to provide in terms of the Tasman Highway near Orford and some planning that’s going on there that will have a disruption on the East Coast travel later this week.

Now, in the past 24 hours, Tasmania’s Public Health authorities have continued to obviously manage what’s been going on in Victoria very closely.

There are now, this is a little bit of a moving feast, but now 23 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with 15 of those linked to the current outbreak.

In response, Tasmania’s Public Health Service has declared a number of premises and a Local Government area as high-risk.

A list can be found on the Tasmania coronavirus website.

Travellers intending to enter Tasmania who were at any of the identified high-risk premises - I would urge people to check the website, there are w a number of high-risk premises that have been added to in the course of the day -, check for those premises, but also the Whittlesea Local Government area which was designated last night as well as high risk.

Travellers will not be permitted to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an essential traveller from those areas or premises.

Travellers currently in Tasmania who were in Victoria on or since Thursday the 6th of May are asked to check the list of high-risk premises, and anyone who spent time at any of the sites at the specified dates and time listed should self-isolate immediately and call the Public Health hotline for further advice.

Victorian health authorities also advise that one of the confirmed cases attended an AFL game at the MCG on Sunday.

Anyone who attended the game and was sat in zone 4, Level 1 of the Great Southern Stand with the bay between M1 and M16 on their match ticket should self-isolate immediately and contact the Public Health hotline for further advice, and if anyone now in Tasmania attended that game, they should monitor themselves for symptoms, and if they develop any cold and flu-like symptoms, they should self-isolate and contact the Public Health hotline immediately.

Likewise, if you’ve not visited any of the high-risk locations listed but have been in Victoria generally and develop any symptoms of COVID-19, please contact the Public Health hotline to book a test.

I ask people to remain aware that the situation in Victoria is generating a lot of calls to our Public Health hotline.

There was a spike this morning, but wait times have returned to normal, and we have provided additional staff as well.

The Public Health hotline provides the information required for tests, vaccinations, as well as answer questions for what will obviously be a large number of people that may have travelled in or through Victoria in recent times.

We continue to monitor the situation in Victoria closely and respond proactively, as we have always done.

I’d make the point, with Victoria obviously monitoring this on an hour by hour, day by day basis, should they decide to take further action, as has occurred at other times when other states have put in broader lockdowns, then Public Health will assess, Tasmanian Public Health will assess that situation and make recommendations in terms of what we should do here.

We’re not at that point as yet, but should there be a need to take further action, then we will act very quickly, based on Public Health advice.

I also want to provide today just a very quick update on vaccinations and make the point, and I want to lean into this quite heavily, the Victoria situation is a very clear signal to get vaccinated.

We’ve done very well in Tasmania, and at the moment I can report that more than 101,000 or over 23% of Tasmanians 16 years or over,  in the group that the vaccine’s available to, have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and some 22,000, or thereabouts, Tasmanians had their second dose as well.

So, Tasmanians are responding, they are getting the jab, but if ever you wanted a wake-up call as to why it’s important to get vaccinated, I think what we’re seeing occur in Victoria right now is exactly the reason why.

Now, importantly, the vaccination program is ramping up.

We’ve increased doses of Pfizer being made available, and we will have available to us just south of 25,000 jabs each week available, 24,600 available each week.

Importantly, with Pfizer, this has been reported recently, being able to be stored for around a month at 2C to 8C instead of only five days, this will make the rollout easier as well in terms of ensuring Pfizer is more easily transported.

Now, importantly, we’ve got Pfizer clinics at Swansea, Flinders Island, Cape Barren Island and King Island, as well as in Smithton on the West Coast in coming weeks, and there are obviously the Pfizer clinics that we have already stood up as well.

I would urge eligible Tasmanians to make contact, book a vaccination.

If ever there was a time that a very clear message is being sent that getting vaccinated is a good idea, a sensible idea, one that importantly is going to ensure that we protect ourselves, our families and our community, what’s occurring in Victoria is that message loud and clear.

So, I’ll hand over to Dr Veitch to just chat a little bit more about the Victorian situation but, again, I would stress, with Victoria monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis, if they determine that there is a need for broader lockdowns, then we will take advice from Public Health and, if necessary, then we will implement further measures, but based on Public Health advice.