Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 21 MAY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good morning.

I just want to be clear and start where I started on many occasions. To save lives we need to follow the rules. It’s how we will put ourselves in the very best position to recover and rebuild.

I just want to make the point that we are now just on the fourth day of the first stage on easing restrictions and so it is so very important that we all work together to set Tasmania up for the best outcome that we can have, as we move forwards towards easing Stage Two restrictions.

Now, this means working together, to follow the rules and to use common sense to keep our community safe and people safe.

We know this virus travels with people. It doesn’t travel by itself, and so it’s very important whilst there is now more movement around our regions and State, I would encourage everyone to exercise caution and vigilance.

Please, while day trips are okay, make them local trips, wherever you can. Don’t travel to the other end of the State and buy a tin of paint. That simply doesn’t make sense. Shop locally where you can, support local businesses.

By all means, if you’re visiting someone in care or perhaps a close friend or relative for a special occasion or, unfortunately, a funeral, you can now travel, as long as you follow the rules. But, please, exercise common sense at all times.

I want to deal with a matter that’s come up in recent days, the restrictions on launching boats outside our municipalities and travelling to national parks and reserves beyond a 30 km drive from your primary residence.

The decisions that have been taken have been taken to keep people safe. They haven’t been taken lightly, and they’ve been taken with Public Health advice.

We know Tasmania has an older and more vulnerable population. We also have coastal communities where, in the main, they support our older and vulnerable population. There are a lot of retirees that live on the coast, and it’s important that we ensure that we protect them where we can.

That’s why we encourage people to stay in their municipality for boat launching. That’s why we put that rule in place. We don’t want to see an influx of people into these different coastal communities around the State, and to be clear, it’s not so much about boat ramps, albeit people can congregate there, but it’s about ensuring that social distancing occurs, and it’s about ensuring that we can trace and track should the virus raise its head.

A trip to the East Coast, for example, may mean a stop for petrol, it may mean a stop for food or to buy bait. It may mean a stop to the local supermarket whilst in that local community and, again, it increases the interactions that people are having. And, as I’ve said, the virus won’t travel by itself, it will travel with people.

So, just for now we’re trying to limit the number of interactions that people have and to ensure that we can keep people safe. It’s why we’ve also taken the measure to ensure that people don’t stay in their shacks. It’s important that we protect these small regional and local communities.

The 30 km drive to a national park or reserve simply reduces the risk of people moving to or moving through smaller towns or inner coastal areas, where in many cases older and more vulnerable people live.

At this early stage of easing the restrictions, it’s important that we take a careful, sensible and, importantly, gradual set of steps through this. We’ve laid out our plan and it’s important that we continue with it. However, we are in a good space.

When I announced the road map back, I committed that during each of the four-week stages, at around the third week mark, we would have a review, to see whether or not we could move on to the next stage. That’s a sensible and responsible approach. If there is an outbreak or if there’s a second wave, we don’t want to move to that second stage at that time, so it’s important that we do what we can to ensure that we keep on top of the virus as we move through each of those stages and especially this first stage.

However, I’m hopeful as we move through, and we’ve seen low case numbers now, but we’ll continue to see low case numbers and, importantly, hopefully, we will continue to see zero cases.

Now, with good testing and understanding of where the virus is across our community and that third week, when we look to the review of whether or not we can move to Stage Two, which will be just before the long weekend next month, if we can ease the restrictions on boating and the limit to municipalities and also the 30 km limit in terms of travelling to a national park, we will look to do so then, but we need to work through this carefully and responsibly. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

So, importantly, please follow the rules and please be patient. We’ve come too far to undo the good work that we’ve done. And, importantly, if you’ve got a snotty nose, if you’ve got any form of mild respiratory symptoms, please get tested. It is so important that we continue to test and that we understand where the virus is.

In finishing, I just want to say this. We’d laid out a road map, and it’s a road map that I‘m confident that will take us through the good place that we’re in at the moment to a better place. But we just need to set through this sensibly, cautiously and responsibly.

I know many Tasmanians have sacrificed a lot. And I’d ask people to remember that there are some that have sacrificed their business, some that have sacrificed their jobs.

And I know that as we step through this and we gradually open up the economy, we will find those jobs will start to come back. From my point of view, that can’t happen soon enough, and I’m certain for the people that are affected it can’t.

But we need to do this in a way that ensures that we don’t have that saw-tooth that I have spoken about on so many occasion, that we don’t reduce restrictions, only then to have to put them back on again, because what that will mean is that for some businesses that recapitalise to start once, they just simply won’t be able to recapitalise again to start a second time.

So, work with us, let’s work together. We’ve come such a long way as a State, and it’s important that we continue to go forward together as we work to solve what has been the most difficult challenge that his state has ever faced.

I encourage everyone to keep working together but, importantly, to follow the rules. Maintain good hygiene and wash your hands regularly, keep up the social distancing. If you haven’t downloaded the COVIDSafe app, please do so. It will help if we need to track and trace. Stay home, if you’re just a little bit unwell and, importantly, observe the restrictions in place.

The process that we’ve outlined is a gradual lifting of the restrictions, and I know at times people will get frustrated and would like to see that occur sooner rather than later. But it’s important that we continue to be guided by Public Health advice. It’s important that we step through this carefully. It’s important that we don’t allow to occur here in Tasmania what’s occurred in countries across the world, where they have lifted restrictions only to find a second wave hit and they’ve been back where they’ve started from as a result.

This has been about saving lives. It still is.

Importantly, the steps that we take are going to help us to get back to a more normal type of living, to get back our economy, and we just need to do it sensibly, responsibly and, importantly, follow the stages.

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