Following the most recent meeting of the National Cabinet, the Tasmanian Government, along with all other jurisdictions, has agreed to take further steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community.
The National Cabinet has accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice that non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020.
States and territories agreed to give further consideration to practical guidance and rules for non-essential indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people (including staff) such as cinemas, theatres, restaurants/cafes, pubs, clubs, weddings and funerals.
In the meantime, these venues should continue to apply social distancing and hygiene practices:
The Tasmanian Government will liaise and consult with businesses as to how we can best implement these additional social distancing measures.
This is in addition to the National Security Committee of Cabinet’s decision to raise the advice for all overseas travel to level 4. The advice to all Australians, regardless of your destination, age or health, is do not travel overseas at this time.
It also advised Australians who are overseas and wish to return to Australia, to do so as soon as possible.
Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas, including Australians citizens and permanent residents, will also be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of arrival.
Australians who cannot, or do not want to return home should follow the advice of local authorities and minimise their risk of COVID-19 exposure by self-isolating.
In addition to the most recent travel restrictions, the Tasmanian Government notes the Governor-General accepted the Commonwealth Government’s recommendation that he declare a “human biosecurity emergency” under the Biosecurity Act 2015 given the risks COVID-19 poses to human health and the need to control its spread in Australia.
That declaration allows the Federal Health Minister to issue targeted, legally enforceable directions and requirements to combat the virus.
The first emergency requirement that will be made under the declaration is to formally prohibit international cruise ships from entering Australian ports for an initial 30 days, which provides additional legal support for the decision announced on Sunday 15 March 2020.
Additional measures will be considered at the next National Cabinet meeting on Friday 20 March 2020.
The Tasmanian Government also notes that the current AHPPC advice regarding schools is that pre-emptive closures are not proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time.
The committee has said that the spread of COVID-19 in the community is at quite low levels and it may be many months before the level of Australian community infection is again as low as it is at the moment. For pre-emptive school closures to be effective, closure for at least several months is required and it would be unclear when they could be re-opened.
School closures for shorter defined periods may be considered as part of a suite of more stringent distancing measures later in the outbreak, in anticipation of a peak in infection rates.
The advice in relation to school closures will continue to be reviewed at daily meetings of the AHPPC.
There is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians, and while the risk to the public of coronavirus remains low, we will take all precautionary action to manage the situation proactively and keep people safe.