Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 17 MAY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone.

In the past nine days we’ve had just one positive case of coronavirus.

Importantly, as we begin our road to the recovery, it’s vital that we don’t undo all the good work we’ve managed together, in terms of surpressing the virus over the last six to eight weeks.

Tasmanians, in the main, have worked hard to stay home and save lives, and it’s made a difference to drastically slow any spread of the virus in the State, and I thank all Tasmanians for their efforts.

I will stress, however, that as we begin the easing of Stage One restrictions tomorrow, that those efforts can’t fall by the wayside.

It’s imperative that we don’t let down our guard, and imperatively, that we don’t become complacent, and we don’t invite a second wave.

It’s only by taking safe and secure steps early, that we’ve given ourselves the best platform to recover in the future, and importantly, we don’t want a saw-tooth approach.

We don’t want to be taking off restrictions only to be putting them back on. For businesses that are caught in that circumstance, they’ll find that having had to recapitilise once, that the second time around, they simply won’t be able to come back. So we need to step through this carefully and sustainably.

Many businesses, restaurants and cafes, will start to reopen from tomorrow. They will be relying on Tasmanians to do the right thing and to follow the rules. This means observing the restrictions on people numbers in place, observing social distancing rules and maintaining one and a half metres from people.

And importantly, I will stress, if you haven’t downloaded the COVIDSafe app, please do so. It will help our contact tracing and tracking efforts immeasurably. It’s not going to keep you safe, it doesn’t wrap a bubble of protection around you, but it will ensure we are able to get on top of this virus should it bubble up and we will be able to track and trace quickly, and isolate.

The easing of restrictions are gradually staged, with some changes having already started in the last week, including reopening our national parks and reserves within 30kms of your home, and we increased funeral numbers up to 20.

From tomorrow, 18th May the important Stage One restrictions that will be eased include:

  • Visitors to your household, will be able to increase up to five people. Social distancing rules should apply. A number of people have contact me about this in the last week, and said, does this mean we can all sit together on the couch or around the kitchen table. No, the simple matter is if you are bringing people into your house, ensure that you socially distance. Ensure that you protect yourself.
  • Gatherings will increase to 10 people for indoor and outdoor settings. Restaurants and cafes, in all settings, including restaurants in pubs or clubs, hotels or RSLs to open, and they will be able to seat up to 10 people at a time. This will vary depending on a venue’s capacity and won’t include the venue’s staff. Again, we need to be sensible and responsible, and while I understand that this won’t suit every one, the important thing is that by limiting the number of people that can come together in a group, should the virus bubble up, it means that we can contact trace and track it, and we will step our way back slowly through the restrictions.
  • Funerals may extend to 30 attendees outdoors, with the indoor limit remaining at 20 as we set this week.
  • Local parks and playgrounds will be open for groups of up to 10 people.
  • Bootcamps can be held outside in parks for up to 10 people.
  • Local government, community facilities, including libraries and online centres, will be able to open from tomorrow. But again, they’ll all need to be COVID-ready, and they’ll all need to ensure they abide by the rules.
  • The 10 person rule will also allow golf to resume relatively normally. Competition golf will be allowed, however club rooms must operate in line with restricted Stage One numbers of only 10 people in the club rooms at any one time, and obviously, social distancing rules and hygiene rules continue to apply.
  • Training for community sports, in groups of 10, can commence. No competition yet, and be very mindful and limit any physical contact. But in terms of groups training in parks or at ovals, but only in groups of 10.
  • Our strong border controls will remain in place, except where there is a change for Tasmanian residents coming back into the State from interstate, will be able to quarantine at their residence if that’s suitable. But again social distancing rules should apply for Tasmanian residents. If it’s someone coming into the State and you don’t have an exemption, then you will be in a Government facility if you’re not a Tasmanian resident.
  • Also, vulnerable people are encouraged to stay home and protect your health, and that message hasn’t changed. If you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, of 50 years or over, with one or more chronic medical conditions, you should limit your contact with other people, and the advice is stay home. If you’re 65 years and older with a chronic medical condition, stay home, limit your interaction with other people. If you’re 70 years or older, or someone with compromised immune systems, or someone with a disability, if you can limit your interaction, please do so.

In one week from now, on the 25th May, Kindergarten to Year Six students will return to learning at school, along with Year 11 and 12 students at extension schools and colleges.

Aged care visits at that time will move to the national restrictions of two visitors per day.

On the 9th June, highschool students from Years 7 to 10 will resume learning at school.

At the 13th June, racing will resume, with trials as we discussed last week, underway this week in readiness for that restart.

That will then take us up to the Stage Two easing of restrictions, on the 15th June, where in the main, it will be around larger group sizings. I won’t run through all of Stage Two. Again, as I’ve said very clearly through this, we will be guided by Public Health advice every step of the way. It’s important that Tasmanians follow the rules, that those businesses that are able to reopen, that they follow the rules. That we all do the right thing, and focus on our personal hygiene, wash our hands regularly, socially distance.

In terms of businesses that are reopening, WorkSafe has developed COVID Safety plans to assist and there is a wealth of information on the WorkSafe website. If you have any issues, call the Business Hotline. SafeWork Australia also has information as well.

It’s important that we work through this together to ensure that we provide both a safe working environment for your staff, but importantly, for the people that are going to come and be patrons in your establishments.

The difficult thing, and I know for many businesses, and there will be, I am certain, as we move through Stage One, Stage Two and into Stage Three, there will be businesses that are going to be asking us to move faster than what we are. And I’m going to resist that. At the end of the day, we have taken Public Health advice every step of the way, and it’s important that we continue to do that. We are in a good place, but we need to get to a better place.

A number of countries around the world have found that they’ve been hit by a second wave. We don’t want to go through that, that would be devastating both in Tasmania and in this country, so we want to step our way through this sensibly and responsibly. And I’m simply not going to play Russian roulette with people’s lives here. We will take Public Health advice and we will step through this sensibly and responsibly to ensure that we can take every step as quickly as we can, but every step as safely as we can.

In terms of the steps we will take to ensure that our economy comes back online quickly.

As I said on Friday, we’re going to roll out the most aggressive construction program that this State has ever seen. Treasury has begun work on providing the advice on those projects that we can bring forward, but importantly, what we want to look at is ensuring that we focus on social housing, that we focus on those areas of our construction activity, in terms of schools, roads, dams. Those areas that are going to ensure that they stand the State, not only in good stead now, because they provide work, but importantly that they underpin this State’s future moving forward as well.

We will also ensure that our key strengths – agriculture, visitor economy, aquaculture, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, skills and education as well as trade. That we have a keen eye to those as well to ensure that we can get those sectors up and running as quickly as possible as well.

I want to finish, before I hand over to the Health Minister for an update on the details around cases and also testing – I want to once again just pause, and ensure that people continue to think about the rules. It is so very important that as we move forward from this, that we don’t get in front of ourselves. I note that, as I’ve said a moment ago, there will be industry sectors and I’m certain there will be a number of them, that want us to move more quickly through this than what we’re going to.

This has been about saving lives, it remains about saving lives, and it’s important that we continue to do everything that we can.

Police will continue to manage the rules. More than 80 vehicles were checked yesterday, five people were turned around and told to go home, they were out of their home when they shouldn’t have been. Nearly 280 people have been arrested or summonsed since these rules have been put in place.

We need everyone to stay the distance and follow those rules. Stay home, unless it’s to go out for essential supplies, medical services, to exercise or go to work, volunteer or go to school, or to take part in one of the additional activities, such as going to the library, or to the boot camp, or to eat in a restaurant that can seat 10 people.

If you don’t need to be out, don’t go out. Protect yourselves, protect your community, protect those people that you love. We are in, as I’ve said, a good place, we need to get to a better place but we need to do it sensibly, we need to do it responsibly, and we need to do it based on Public Health advice.

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