Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 13 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Keeping Tasmanians safe and secure is our number one priority. That is why, above all, we’ve taken the measures that we’ve put in place, that’s why we’re asking so many people to stay at home, so many people to quarantine.

Yesterday’s announcements were very disruptive for an Easter Sunday. I don’t think we’ll ever see an Easter Sunday or an East break quite like this again.

But the measures that we put in place now, I hope, will be supported by the North West community.

We need you to work with us. We need you to follow the rules, to do as we ask and stay at home to save lives.

Overnight, we’ve had 11 more positive cases of COVID-19, all related to the NWRH outbreak.

This brings Tasmania’s tally to 144 cases, there are 57 people that have recovered.

Unfortunately, we’ve had five deaths. And unfortunately I think there will be more deaths to come, and we need to ready ourselves for that.

We will get through this, but the only way we’ll get through this is if we all work together.

The actions that we’ve taken are unprecedented.

I don’t think any Premier in the history of the State has had to ask so many people to do so much to help us get on top of this outbreak. I thank those people who have been doing the right thing, and I encourage those that have been flaunting the rules, to do the right thing.

The vast majority of Tasmanians have been, but we need all Tasmanians to get behind this, we need the NW Coast to get behind this. And so, I ask you today, to please, follow the rules and do what you’ve been asked.

In terms of yesterday, and the closure of the two hospital sites, that has never been done before in a hundred years.

It is an extreme measure, but it is a measure that we have needed to take.

I’m pleased that we have made a request to the Federal Government to provide further resources and we will see an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), key leaders and the ADF, to deliver the medical services that we need on the NW Coast.

Also, whilst the vast majority of people have been doing the right thing, there are a number of people who haven’t been.

Over the break, there have been 114 people who have been advised to turn around or leave their shack and go home.

Since Good Friday, there have been 42 Tasmanians who have been charged: 28 of those were arrested and 14 have been summonsed and charged.

Now that is simply not good enough. The rules are clear. I don’t think anyone in this State could argue that they don’t know that we are in the grip of an outbreak of COVID-19 that we have been taking measures now over the last month to keep Tasmanians safe, to keep families safe. I ask Tasmanians to do the right thing, as difficult as that is.

I also want to make a point, that yesterday, in terms of the measures that we introduced, and that was missed by the media.

There will be around 1,000 staff, probably closer to 1,200, who will be quarantined.

With their families, that means there will be somewhere between, we expect, 4,000 to 5,000 people who will be quarantined in the North West in the next 14 days. That is unprecedented, it’s a signficant ask of residents of the NW Coast.

I ask that you work with us, to take these necessary steps, so that we can control this outbreak, we not only flatten the curve, but we work to crush it.

This outbreak is unfortunate. We need to understand how it’s occurred. And there will be contact tracing and tracking that will occur to ensure we can do this.

With the numbers of people that we have quarantined, the most important thing people can do is to stay at home with their families, that they follow the rules, and they ensure we can get on top of this.

We don’t want to see community transmission. I live in hope that that’s not going to occur. But reasonably, we would have to expect at some stage that is going to bubble up.

But we need to deal with this outbreak first. We need to ensure that the extreme measures that we put in place in terms of closing these two hospitals, in terms of asking 1,000 staff to quarantine, with their families, around 4,000 to 5,000 NW people to do this. They need to follow the rules. We need to ask you to work with us, because we need to get on top of this.

One death is too many, five is distressing, and unfortunately there will be more. We need you to follow these rules and work with us.

In terms of other matters, and again, I make the point, that the difficult decisions we’ve made about the additional restrictions on retail, I’m sorry to the people who today are not working, but please work with us through this. If we can all lock down for two weeks, if we can all do the right thing over this period and get on top of this, then there is an opportunity for us to return and start to lift the additional restrictions we’ve put in place on the NW Coast.

I ask all Tasmanians to support those people you know on the NW Coast. This is difficult, there is an outbreak occurring there, they are the epicentre of our battle at the moment. I need you to work with us, and if you know people on the NW Coast, encourage them, make contact with them, work with them, work with us, to ensure that we can crush this, that we can get on top of it.

It’s important that we move with speed, it’s important that we move with haste, as we quarantine the staff and their families on the NW Coast, I would ask that they do the right thing and work with us.

The Police will continue with their vigilant approach.

The NW Coast will continue to have special attention paid to it.

Police will do spot checks in terms of compliance on an ongoing basis.

The best weapon that we have to beat this, is to follow the rules, make sure that you appropriately socially distance. Make sure that you take responsibility for your own health, your own life, but importantly, for the lives of your family, for the lives of our community.

It’s important that we get on top of this, I cannot stress that enough.

Never before has a Premier ever had to ask a community to do this. I’ve got to admit, the responsibility rests heavy on me in having to make these decisions. But I ask that you work with us. This is the best way that we can get on top of this, that we can stop the spread of this insidious disease. And importantly, that we can save lives.

So if you have been asked to quarantine, please do so, please ensure your family quarantines with you, and importantly, follow the rules, stay home, save lives, and we will all get through this together.

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