Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 7 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Our aim is to keep Tasmanians safe and, again, I want to just reiterate the message that if you stay home, you will save lives. Don’t leave your home unless it’s for an essential purpose, either to go to work or to assist in volunteering to assist our effort, out for essential supplies or for medical services or to go to school or study if you can’t study at home, or for exercise. It is very important that you follow the rules. I cannot stress that enough.

Last night we confirmed three more cases of coronavirus in our state, bringing the total to 89 cases. Importantly, we have now had 34 people that have recovered.

Two of the cases overnight relate once more to the North West Regional Hospital where we do have a confirmed outbreak. During these times, we will see outbreaks occur, and what’s important is that we must do everything that we possibly can to ensure that we get on top of these matters quickly, that we track and trace aggressively, that we put resources in.

As I said yesterday, this is not about money, this is about saving people’s lives, and we will apply whatever resources we need to get the job done.

In terms of.., to our health workers. Six health care workers have now tested positive to coronavirus over recent days. We want to let them know that we stand with them. We stand with all of our health workers. They’re on the frontline. This outbreak shows just how quickly, how easily, these matters can take hold, and we need to ensure that we get on top of it.

However, the greatest protection that we can provide for our essential services workers, for our health care workers, is for Tasmanians to follow the rules. If you don’t need to go out, stay home, save lives.

You know, I said yesterday that, you know, going out and browsing isn’t an essential service, and I was pleased yesterday to see a number of retailers that were explaining the steps that they have taken. I expect all retailers to follow the rules. Ensure that the one person per four square metres is followed, ensure that you’re providing hand sanitiser, ensure that you are doing the right thing, and if you have people queuing outside your store, ensure that they have appropriate social distancing. And if you need to go to the expense of security, then we expect you to do that. We expect you to follow the rules and ensure that we keep Tasmanians safe.

This Easter I will be very important that people don’t travel. You can’t go camping, our parks are shut. You can’t stay in your shack, because you’ve got to stay in your primary residence. You can’t launch your boat out of your municipality where your primary residence is. We want people to stay home. We need that message to get through.

The police will play their part over Easter. We want to ensure that Tasmanians are safe. We want to ensure that Tasmanians are doing the right thing. And if you’re not, don’t be surprised if you are stopped by the police and asked wat you’re doing this Easter. It is important that we do not take this virus to our coastal communities, many of them which are older, more vulnerable communities. It is very, very important that we follow the rules.

In terms of ensuring that we tighten up and we protect the most vulnerable, to ensure that we’re keeping our patients safe across all of our hospitals, we will be stipulating and mandating from noon today that there will be no visits to any of our hospitals from noon today, unless it’s a partner visiting at the birth of a child, unless it’s a parent visiting a dependent child who is sick in hospital, or for compassionate and end of life reasons. We need to be very strict.  In terms of our hospitals we will be locking them down today and no visitors apart from those reasons from twelve noon.

In terms of our most vulnerable, which are our elderly in Tasmania, a few weeks ago we introduced rules in terms of very strict visitation, and the vast majority, in fact my understanding is that all of our aged care facilities have been doing the right thing. But this is a critical area. What we don’t want over the Easter period are people with time on their hands thinking that what we’ll do is pop in and see mum and dad. I’m sorry, but as of twelve noon today, the two person two hour rule for visitors in aged care will finish. So, from twelve noon today, there’ll be no visitors to aged care facilities unless it’s a visit for end of life or compassionate grounds, as determined by the facility. We want to lock down our aged care facilities, we want to ensure that we keep the most vulnerable in the state safe.

These rules will be in place for a two-week period, over the Easter and for the following week, and then we will review.

We understand how important it is for people to remain connected. We would encourage you through this period to use skype or phones or other communication, and the homes will work with you in terms of these matters, but it’s simply important that we don’t expose those that are most vulnerable in our community through either visitation into aged care or visitation into our hospitals. And so, from twelve noon today, new rules apply, and I would ask Tasmanians to abide by them.

In terms of an announcement I made last week, we announced that racing in Tasmania would cease and that we would be announcing a package. Well, today, TasRacing, in conjunction with its stakeholders, will be announcing and working through that package.

Effectively, what we’re going to do is over the period that racing is shut down, the stakes which largely provide income to trainers and to the industry, that the Government will continue to make around $2 million per month available to the racing industry. This will be funded through TasRacing with Government support.

Importantly, we made animal welfare the heart and centre of this package. There will be ongoing spot checks by animal welfare officers. Payments will flow for trainers based on the number of animals that they have registered to ensure their welfare is maintained.

Training tracks, as I’ve discussed in this room, will remain available, and those who assist in animal welfare, including trainers, veterinarians, farriers and those who feed the animals will be able to continue their work looking after these animals.

While these are challenging times for all Tasmanians, I’m confident that this will help this industry hibernate and then come out the other side when we can reopen racing again. And I know it’s been difficult for some in the industry, but as I come back to the point that I made last week when I made the announcement in terms of racing finishing. We draw a lot of people from across the state to our race tracks. One of the most important things that we can do is stay in our local area. We don’t want people travelling from regional Tasmania into the major cities to where the tracks are and then returning. It’s important that if you don’t need to travel, you don’t travel.

This Easter will be difficult one for people. This Easter we’re asking people to follow the rules. This Easter we’re asking people to have an Easter like they have not had before. This will be an Easter where you will need to stay at home. This is an Easter where you won’t be able to go to the shack, you won’t be able to launch your boat. This is an Easter where we need you to work with us.

You know, we’re starting to flatten the curve, but it’s important that we continue to ensure that these rules are abided by. We’re now seven days into the stay at home period. We said that we would keep it in place for a month and then review it, and we will do that.

But now is not the time to be complacent. Now is the time for all Tasmanians to do their bit, to be responsible, to ensure that we can get on top of this thing. And I’m certain that if as Tasmanians we follow the rules, we only go out if it’s essential, we follow the rules if we stay home, we will save lives, and that is important.

And I want to thank Tasmanians that have been abiding by the rules to this point, because it is important. If we can suppress this, if we can get on top of this, you know, we can return to our lives sooner.

You know, we have the benefit of being an island. We have the benefit of having introduced the ban on cruise ships earlier than the rest of the country. We have the benefit of locking down our borders before the rest of the country. We have the benefit of being an island. Let’s use that to our advantage. Let’s follow the rules, as tough as they are, and make certain that we get on top of this, all do our bit and, as I’ve said continuously, if you love your family, if you love your friends, make sure that you follow the rules, because if you do, you’ll keep your community safe, you’ll keep those people that you love safe. And I’d simply ask you to abide by them, and as Tasmanians let’s make sure that we go forward together and together we actually get on top of this.

I want to thank my Cabinet for their support. I also want to thank the other Leaders, Bec and Cassy for their support. It’s important that at a time like this that all Leaders right across our community stand shoulder to shoulder and we all do our bit to ensure that we can beat this thing, because we will come out the other side, we will rebuild and, importantly, to get there as quickly as we possibly can, we simply need to follow the rules.

We’re one week into this four week period, now is the time not to be complacent. Now is the time to do everything that we possibly can to get on to of this.

I’m going to ask the Police Commissioner to say a few words about how he’ll be managing things over the Easter period, then I’ll take some questions, and then, I think you’re aware, that I need to go to national cabinet.

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