Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 3PM 16 NOVEMBER 2020

Our first priority is Tasmanians’ health and safety, and today’s a stark reminder of the unforgiving nature of COVID-19.

The situation in Adelaide’s northern suburbs has seen case numbers increase more than five-fold in less than 24 hours, with a growing number of public venues compromised.

At this stage, the case count is still 17, but obviously a significant increase from overnight.

My priority is to ensure Tasmania is not compromised.

We’ll take a proactive and responsible approach to managing COVID-19 at our borders.

Now, following the national Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) meeting with Public Health officials today, we’ve had a briefing this afternoon and the opportunity to understand further details in relation to the Adelaide northern suburb cluster.

With a number of variable factors, including unknown levels of community transmission at this stage, as testing ramps up, Public Health officials in Tasmania have determined that we move South Australia from tonight, for the time being, and I’ll explain that, move South Australia to a medium-risk jurisdiction for incoming passengers tonight by air and tomorrow morning via the Spirit of Tasmania.

This means that people will need to go into mandatory quarantine, and if they do not have a suitable residence to quarantine in, they will need to go into Government hotel quarantine.

Due to the swift nature of the change here, we will cover the costs initially in terms of the hotel quarantine.

As South Australia’s contact tracing specialists work to understand the nature of the outbreak, we will be in a better position to be able to provide a further update tomorrow.

Now, in terms of that, there may be a distinction that is arrived at tomorrow in terms of metropolitan Adelaide versus regional South Australia, but we need to allow the South Australian officials to do their work and we need to be better informed in terms of whether or not the arrangements remain blanketing South Australia or are more nuanced in coming days.

Tonight though, we will take the steps that we are and, as I’ve said often, we need to be nimble and decisive, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Tonight there’ll be a scheduled cohort of seasonal workers due to arrive in Tasmania from the Adelaide area.

They will undergo mandatory hotel quarantine from tonight.

Some will have come directly through metropolitan Adelaide, but at this stage there may be some that have spent time in Adelaide and so therefore that cohort will be quarantined.

Earlier today, we advised anyone who has arrived in Tasmania from Adelaide or South Australia since last Monday 9 November, must self-isolate in their residence or accommodation and await further advice from Public Health officials.

However, following updated advice from South Australian Health who are busily contact tracing and testing, this date has shifted from 9 November to 7 November.

So, it means that anyone who has arrived in Tasmania since Saturday 7 November from Adelaide must self-isolate in their residence or accommodation and await further advice from Public Health officials.

That advice is being provided on a rolling basis to them, but we want those people to remain self-isolating overnight tonight and there’ll be further updates as we move forward.

In regards to testing, anyone who is in the State at the moment and who has been in the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s northern suburbs is requested to come forward for a test and to contact the Public Health hotline in the first instance, if they haven’t already done so.

Importantly, for all of those South Australians who are currently in the state, continue to monitor your own health circumstances, and if there are any symptoms at all, contact the 1800 671 738 Public Health hotline and organise a test.

The other matter I want to touch on as well is that obviously in terms, it was raised at the earlier presser today, regarding the mercy flights.

We haven’t as yet been able to land at a position with the Commonwealth in terms of the partnership agreement and the supports that we are looking for, so that has been deferred.

We won’t have a flight arriving here on 22 November, the earliest schedule would be in or around the first week of December, but we will continue to work through that process with the Commonwealth.

We will not take any action that would compromise Tasmanians’ health, and we will either get that right or it won’t be moving forward.

In terms of the circumstances South Australia, obviously overnight we will receive further information, there’ll be a further AHPPC meeting tomorrow.

Importantly, the other key issue that I want to touch on today as well is that in terms of anyone from South Australia that is in the State at the moment, do not go to an aged care facility, do not go to a hospital, unless you have called the Public Health hotline and arrange for that visit to occur.

We need to ensure that we take every sensible step that we can at the moment.

We will be informed by further advice tomorrow in terms of the circumstances for both those people that are in the State that have been requested to self-isolate, and in terms of those that come in overnight, as to whether or not there will be a distinction drawn between regional South Australia and metropolitan Adelaide, but that will be a matter for Public Health to provide further advice on.