Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 3 SEPTEMBER 2021

Actig Premier Jeremy Rockliff

Our priority since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to keep Tasmanians safe and secure.

We're now coming to the end of Week Three of the operation Delta Shields Super Six Vaccination Blitz, and I'm pleased to report that this week we passed 60 per cent of eligible Tasmanians having had a first dose.

We are tracking well on the way to pass our target of more than 63 per cent of Tasmanians having a first dose by the 12th of September and 70 per cent by mid-October and 80 per cent by mid-November.

We also continue to lead the other states and territories with close to 44 per cent of eligible Tasmanians fully vaccinated.

This week, we passed more than 450,000 total doses given across the vaccination program since February, in the last two weeks, we've been vaccinating at a record pace with over 32,000 vaccinations per week across the state.

This includes the very successful super clinic at Hobart's Macq 2 centre last weekend where we vaccinated nearly 2,500 people over two days, the most we've ever done in one go.

And I want to thank the Hobart-based Rotary Club who have helped us on the ground on that day, and of course all those involved.

Our next super clinic is in Burnie next weekend.

The clinics are continuing to fill up fast, but there are still some appointments available.

So, if you live in the North West Coast, like I do, please take this opportunity and book now.

Launceston’s turn, of course, is the 25th and the 26th of September.

Yesterday, we announced that vaccination bookings are now open for 12 to 15 year olds, who will be eligible for a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine from the 13th of September.

In October, there will be a series of youth super clinics for 12 to 17 year olds across the state to help vaccinate and protect our young people more quickly.

And, in addition, today, I'm pleased to advise that from the 13th of September, all GPs participating in the rollout will have access to Pfizer, so this will give more Tasmanians the options to get their jab.

Vaccination is a key step towards a COVID-normal, and in Tasmania we'll be doing everything we can to reach as high as possible vaccination rates for our vulnerable community.

And, as we have said, every step along the way of our COVID journey, we will continue to receive Public Health and health advice, which will guide us on the steps Tasmania needs to safely ease into a living with COVID world.

I want to now turn to mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers, and today I can confirm that Tasmania will be requiring all healthcare workers in our state, healthcare settings both public and private, to be vaccinated with the first dose, or evidence of a booking for a first dose required by the 31st of October this year.

This is a critical step, and one that we do not take lightly.

However, it is paramount to ensure the protection of our health workforce and the protection of vulnerable patients in their care, should the imminent threat of Delta become reality sooner rather than later here in Tasmania.

What we have seen and witnessed in New South Wales is the devastating impact the virus can have in our healthcare sectors, and we must act now and not wait to protect those who work in these settings to protect their loved ones, patients and, of course, the broader community.

A Public Health direction will be issued to support this requirement, and we will finalise all of the details, including the definition of healthcare worker and premises, over the next week, and we will also speak directly to the unions on these details and the plan to implement.

In addition to healthcare workers, from the 17th of September specified quarantine site and transport workers will not be able to enter quarantine sites or provide quarantine transport services, unless they are too vaccinated.

In relation to staff at the Ibis Hotel, which will be receiving the international repatriation flight from London this Sunday, I'm advised of this morning, all but two workers were vaccinated and that they are due to be vaccinated this afternoon.

Vaccinations for aged care workers of course remain mandatory also coming into effect on the 17th of September.

Now, if I return to the Afghanistan and the UK flight.

As we have reiterated this week, Tasmania stands ready to support both our local Hazara community and play our role in the national effort to assist the Australian Government in its humanitarian response to the crisis through the return of Afghan people to Australia.

That's why this coming Sunday, the 5th of September, Tasmania will accept a flight of around 165 returning Australians travelling from the UK, in order to free up hotel space in other jurisdictions for incoming Afghan people.

This will follow a similar process to our Seasonal Worker program with our dedicated International Seasonal Worker Hotel, the Ibis in Hobart, to be used to accommodate returning Australians from the UK.

Those travelling will be required to have had two negative COVID tests before flying and will be subject to testing throughout the quarantine period, only to re-enter the community based on completing the 14-day quarantine and having negative tests.

The Department of Communities cooperates closely with Tasmania Police, the Department of Health and the Tasmanian Health Service and our hotel quarantine partners to ensure safe and efficient practices are in place.

All departmental staff, plus hotel, security and transport staff engaged by the Department involved with the repatriation flight will have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Strict protocols are in place to govern guests’ movements, food delivery to rooms, cleaning practices and other hotel functions.

A wage subsidy and daily allowance program provides strong financial incentives for hotel security and transport staff to avoid secondary employment and limit their out of work movements to avoid high-density environments and settings where vulnerable people reside.

All on-site staff are subject to daily saliva testing and weak PCR testing for COVID-19.

We are pleased to be able to contribute to this very important national humanitarian effort, and we are working with the Federal Government regarding the UK flight, and we'll be seeking reimbursement for around 90% of associated costs.

In terms of check-in TAS, the app has now had more than 36 million check-ins, with over 38,000 venues registered across Tasmania.

From this morning, all Tasmanians aged 16 or over who use public transport, such as a bus or ferry, will be required to check in.

People entering a passenger terminal, such as an airport, will also be required to check in.

The move is part of the Government's ongoing commitment, of course, to keep Tasmanians safe.

Check-in TAS is important for contact tracing in the event of COVID cases occurring within our community.

All passenger, buses and ferries, as well as airports are required to register for and display QR codes for the check-in TAS app in order for people to check in.

To avoid delays, buses and ferries are not required to have alternative means of checking in, and if anyone does not have a smartphone or someone with him who can check them in as a guest on a bus or ferry they should make a personal note of their journey.

If you are heading to a Tasmanian airport, you will also be required to check in from Friday the 3rd of September, whether it is to pick up arriving passengers, for your own travel, or if you work at an airport you must of course check in.

And it is important to note the new requirements do not apply to school students, regardless of their age, travelling on a bus or ferry on a school day, travel on a ferry in your car when you remain in your car and travellers disembarking from a plane at an airport terminal.

Penalties may apply for not checking in at a required location.

Of course an expansion of the check-in TAS process will be supported by advertisements over the course of the next two weeks.

Our Government is engaged with a range of stakeholders who’ll be impacted by the decision, including bus and ferry operators, Metro, Red Line, the Tasmanian Bus Association, Tasmanian Workers Union, private bus operators, CityLink and airport operators.

In relation to our borders and the situation across the country, we are maintaining our strong border restrictions on entry for New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, as well as New Zealand.

These are difficult times, and the escalation of cases in these jurisdictions is a very stark reminder of how challenging COVID-19 is, and our thoughts of course for those across the country who are undergoing extended lockdowns in order to save lives.

We continue to do all we can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering Tasmania, as we continue to get our vaccination rates up.

We're doing well.

We need to continue.

The best thing we can do right now is to continue to work together to reduce the risk.

Keep up the COVID-safe behaviours and get vaccinated.

Don't wait, vaccinate.

Thank you.

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