Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 18 DECEMBER 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

I understand that the situation in NSW is causing some concern to Tasmanians, both in terms of the fact that we’re seeing another small outbreak within the country, but also from those Tasmanians that may have travel plans in the lead up to Christmas.

Our very first priority has been, and remains, the health and safety of Tasmanians.

We’ve been monitoring this situation closely in the last 24 hours.

There has been an additional 10 cases of COVID-19 identified in NSW today, bringing the cluster to a total of 28 cases.

I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll probably see more cases in coming days as this matter develops.

Public Health has moved swiftly to declare the Northern Beaches council area, which includes the wards of Pittwater, Narrabeen, Frenchs Forrest, Curl Curl and Manly, as a high-risk hotspot, as well as premises in Kirribilly, Peakhurst and Penrith, depending on times and dates that people may have attended those facilities. This information is available on the website.

What this means is that any one currently in Tasmania who has been in that area, or one of those premises on or after 11 December, should immediately self isolate. That message has been out there since this morning, so we understand that people are taking heed of that.

They should contact the Public Health Hotline, on 1800 671 738, seek a test, and further advice will be provided to them by Public Health. They are intending to manage the people that are in the State currently on a case-by-case basis, depending on what their movements were in that local government area, and whether they were in one of those high-risk premises.

The high risk areas and times are on the website, www.coronavirus.com.au/travellers-and-visitors/coming-to-tasmania/travel-alert

Remain vigilant in terms of that website, these locations may change.

I’ve said in this room some months ago, that we would move and move quickly, and obviously we’ve seen Public Health take those steps over the course of the evening and this morning as well.

Importantly, if you are a Tasmanian returning home and have been to those high-risk areas, you will still be able to return to Tasmania. You will need to prove residency, and apply through the  Good2Go app – not the Tas E-Travel app – however, you will need to quarantine on your arrival, and you will be required to take a COVID test within 48 hours of your arrival.

In terms of your quarantine, if you are a Tasmanian returning, if you have a suitable residence to quarantine in, you will be able to quarantine there. Family members who haven’t travelled with you will not be required to quarantine with you, however you must ensure appropriate social distancing occurs. These are the same rules that we have applied in the past. They have been robust, and people must follow the guidance.

If you don’t have a suitable residence to quarantine in, you will need to quarantine in Government accommodation for 14 days.

So if you are a Tasmanian returning from one of these high-risk areas, you will be in quarantine for 14 days, either in your own home or residence, or in an approved Government accommodation.

Importantly – and I know that Tasmanians understand this – by limiting people movement, we will limit the virus, reduce the risk of wider spread. I understand that many people, this may put plans for the upcoming festive season in doubt. But we won’t compromise, or risk people’s health here in Tasmania.

In terms of other areas in NSW, that are outside of the designated Northern Beaches area or those premises that I’ve touched on, Tasmania’s E-Travel system will continue to act as a permit system, allowing entry only to those from low-risk areas of NSW, unless you are granted an exemption through the Good2Go process.

We will keep Tasmanians updated on the situation, and I encourage people to look at the Coronavirus website for up-to-date information on travel guidelines and hotspot areas.

I’d also like today to mention the scheduled flight from Tonga for seasonal workers. That has been delayed due to severe weather activity in that region, and will be rescheduled as soon as it is able to be arranged. So obviously, they will not be coming in this evening and going into quarantine tomorrow.

To all Tasmanians, I know that in terms of your travel plans and the NSW hotpots, I understand that this will be difficult. But we need to manage this sensibly and responsibly as we have done right through this process.

Please take heart of the fact that we know that getting on top of COVID quickly is the best course of action, and I have every confidence in the steps that NSW is taking, and that Public Health is taking here in Tasmania.

Going hard and going early is the best defence, and Public Health here in Tasmania has certainly taken that step.

The other point that I’d make as well, as we move into the Christmas period – I couldn’t be prouder of Tasmanians and the way they have worked together during the COVID period. But it is important that we recognise that COVID is still with us, and we still need to remain disciplined.

Importantly, continue to follow the rules. Keep an appropriate distance, wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are unwell – and I want to reiterate that. One of the biggest risks in the coming weeks and days – if you are unwell and you decide that you want to go to the end-of-year booze up, you could put your colleagues at risk, and your community, if you are unwell.

If you are unwell, stay home, book a test, and make certain you are safe. That is the best way to keep your community safe as we work our way through this.