Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 18 JANUARY 2021

With me today I have the Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Scott McKeown.

As we discussed last week, today I’m providing an update on the status of our travel restrictions with the greater Brisbane and greater Sydney regions.

I understand that earlier today, Queensland reported only the one new case of coronavirus in hotel quarantine and no new cases of community transmission, which is good news.

They appear to be right on top of the circumstance there.

This is positive and, importantly, it means that at this stage that, with that state authority they’re on track to lift even further restrictions by this Friday.

Based on this news and informed by Public Health advice, we’re going to step our risk rating down from high risk to medium risk, effective immediately.

This means that, effective immediately, travellers from the greater Brisbane area will be able to travel to Tasmania, however they will still be required to quarantine, either at a suitable residence, if they have one, or in Government designated accommodation at their own expense.

The high risk rating has been lifted, and we will move to medium risk immediately, meaning that people can come to Tasmania, but obviously there will still be a quarantine arrangement in place.

By this coming Friday though, and noting the steps that have been outlined by Queensland, I’d be hopeful that, subject to the situation in Brisbane continuing its positive trend, we could move to classify greater Brisbane as low risk, meaning a return to unrestricted travel from the greater Brisbane area from the end of this week, but we will keep that under observation and we’ll consider that as we move through the course of the week.

But effective immediately, greater Brisbane will step down to a medium risk location.

One of the key reasons for that and the reason for being relatively cautious is the matter of the UK strain of the virus which has been detected in six people linked to their hotel quarantine which we know the details of, I won’t go through those, but we want to be confident that all contact tracing efforts have been exhausted by the end of this week.

We’d be hopeful, as I’ve said, we’ll see a lifting of our restrictions in line with measures being relaxed within Brisbane itself.

In terms of New South Wales and Victoria, in terms of the greater Sydney region, this is currently classified as medium risk and whilst New South Wales recorded no new cases of locally acquired infections in the past 24 hours, yesterday the state had six new cases and authorities are continuing to urge the community to get tested to ensure any unknown transmission is detected.

Based on this and informed by our Public Health officials, we intend to maintain our medium risk classification for the time being for the greater Sydney region and the Wollongong Local Government area.

We believe this is a responsible and sensible approach.

We need to ensure that we are confident that there aren’t any cases in the community which haven’t yet been detected before we look to move that risk assessment to a lower rating.

We’d expect to have an update on the status of greater Sydney at the end of this week.

Finally, in terms of Victoria, travel from the entirety of the State of Victoria goes back to being low risk after a number of premises that were previously classified as high risk and centred around the Black Rock cluster have now been removed, given the time that has passed since those declarations.

So, greater Brisbane medium risk, greater Sydney medium risk and low risk for Victoria, and we’ll have a further update later this week in terms of the greater Brisbane area and also greater Sydney.

I want to just comment on mask wearing at airports and on flights, that from this coming Friday, the 22nd, Public Health direction will come into force requiring face masks to be worn on commercial flights in Tasmanian airspace, both those that are heading from interstate or heading to interstate or coming, or those within the state, commercial flights within the state, you’ll need to wear a mask and at airport terminals.

This will include indoors at terminals, at check-in, at bag drop and in retail outlets as well as outdoor areas of the terminals as well, where other people are present, such as waiting for transport.

This will be strange for some Tasmanians.

Those that have flown already will note that in many cases people are wearing masks on planes, in fact the vast majority are, and around the country this will be a practice that will be seen right across every airport terminal and flight.

But for some Tasmanians it will be strange, but my message there is that with the UK variant it’s important that we understand this is important, that it’s an additional layer of safety, and for those Tasmanians that do feel a little uncomfortable, it’s just the way that it’s going to be moving forward now.

In terms of masks and arrangements and of course supply, we’ve been working with our airports, and the Government will initially provide a number of masks for airports to provide for those people that don’t have a mask when they arrive, however, you know, we expect longer-term arrangements will be bedded down and, importantly, mask wearing will need to occur at the airports on both King and Flinders Islands, as well as obviously on those flights that would leave or arrive on those airports.

Importantly, and I’ve made this point last week as the direction has been bedded down and arrangements around the country finalised, anyone that’s travelling now should heed the advice that we’re providing, that is that if you’re going to a terminal, wear a mask, if you’re getting on a plane, wear a mask.

It’s sensible that you start doing that for your own safety now and fro those around you.

Importantly, from this Friday, if you don’t wear a mask, you’ll be contravening a direction under the law, and Public Health will have the ability to either provide an on spot fine or there are considerable penalties, as we have previously discussed in this room, in terms of being summonsed and significant fines.