Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 7 MAY 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Today I am joined by Acting Director of Public Health Dr Scott McKeown, who everyone knows, and the State Health Commander Kathryn Morgan-Wicks.

National Cabinet was held today.

Primarily we discussed the unfolding situation in India.

I think I can speak on behalf of all Tasmanians, when I say that our thoughts are with the people in India in the very challenging circumstances that they find themselves in there.

The Prime Minister has asked all states to consider how they might assist with the repatriation effort.

Now, I'm of the view that Tasmania must do our bit to contribute to this national effort, whilst also ensuring that we do keep our community safe.

And that the best way that we can do that is by continuing our partnership with Victoria, which sees Tasmania quarantine seasonal workers from lower risk international locations, primarily the Pacific islands, on behalf of Victoria, in return for Victoria quarantining our share of repatriated Australians from other international destinations.

This agreement has been working well, and in recent weeks Victoria have reached out to, at a Departmental level, and requested that we consider extending this current arrangement for a longer period, and in return they will take more repatriation flights for us.

Now, by extending this agreement to later this year, I'm firmly of the view that we would assist the national effort by ensuring that Victoria has more quarantine space available, which would assist them to bring more repatriated Australians home

Now, importantly, the way that this has worked to date has been very successful.

We've managed to assist Victoria with their seasonal workers, and at the same time it's been a good fit for Tasmania in terms of our quarantine arrangements, and we've kept Tasmanians safe.

At this point in time, we've safely quarantined 1,225 seasonal workers safely and effectively, and included in that around half, a little more than 600, the Victorian cohort of which we have another 900 to do, which was flagged to be completed by around the middle of this year.

Tomorrow morning, or in fact this.., tonight, but one am tonight, we received another flight from Vanuatu of around 159 seasonal workers, and these workers will be quarantined at the Ibis Hotel and Hobart and obviously undergo all of the normal fighting protocols that we have in place.

I'll be reaching out to the Acting Premier of Victoria, James Merlino, to have a discussion about the extension which has been, as I say, raised by the Victorian Government with our Department here, and I'll be responding to the Prime Minister, once we've had that discussion.

I did indicate at National Cabinet today that I felt that the best way for Tasmania to help the national effort was to extend the Victorian arrangements.

Now, the situation in New South Wales over recent days and in Western Australia is a stark reminder of the risk of COVID-19.

Here in Tasmania we've continued to act on Public Health advice, and we are, as I've said on many occasions, in a good place, but we simply can't become complacent.

While there have been no new locally acquired cases announced by New South Wales Health this morning, Tasmania's Public Health authorities will continue to review the situation regularly, and fact our Public Health officials are meeting on a daily basis through AHPPC.

Right now there are over 20 premises in and around Sydney that have been declared by Public Health as high risk.

A list of these can be found on the Coronavirus website.

And any person who intends to travel to Tasmania who’s been at a high-risk premise at the dates and times that are listed will not be permitted to enter Tasmania, unless approved by the Deputy State Controller as an essential traveller, which is the system that we have employed when we've been managing hotspots around the country now for some time.

Anyone in Tasmania who's been in Sydney on or after the 27th of April should monitor for symptoms, even [inaudible] and contact the Public Health hotline to book a test, if they've had any symptoms since the 27th of April or develop them over coming days.

Tasmania’s Public Health officials will continue to monitor the situation in Sydney over coming days and respond appropriately to keep Tasmanians safe, as they have done in the past.

Now, vaccination remains one of our most important tools in protecting our community and getting back to a more normal way of living.

We’re now in Week 11 of Tasmania's vaccination rollout.

This week, we opened up our Tasmanian Government Community Clinics to Tasmanians aged 50 years and over, and I understand that we have seen strong demand already.

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind Tasmanians that Community Clinics are opening up in different areas of the state and we continue to have more clinics coming online over the next few weeks, and Kath will be able to provide more of an update in that space in a moment.

GPs are also scheduling appointments to Tasmanians aged 50 years and over from the 17th of May, with some taking bookings now, so I’d suggest those with a GP that is administering the vaccine that they reach out now and start making appointments.

The Commonwealth has confirmed an increase in vaccine availability for GPs over the next few weeks, which will mean that they'll have access to more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for their patients.

I was pleased that we've also received confirmation of an increased volume of the Pfizer vaccine for Tasmania, which will boost our efforts to vaccinate aged care and disability care workers and residents.

Now, importantly, as we move into the colder months, and with people becoming more prone to common cold, it's a strong reminder for all Tasmanians to remain vigilant in respect of symptoms.

Cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you're unwell and don't hesitate to get a test, even if the symptoms are mild.

I'll hand over now to Kathryn to provide an update further on the vaccination program.