Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 24 JULY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

With me today I have, obviously, D Veitch and Commissioner Darren Hine.

Our priority from Day One has been to keep Tasmanians safe and secure.

We went early, we went hard and we applied tough border restrictions for the other states and, importantly, Tasmanians stayed home to save lives.

I made a difference and our state is without a doubt one of the safest places in the world right now.

We also know the virus is here to stay until we have a vaccine, and that’s why we put in place our plan of four safeguards.

Importantly, COVID-safety plans to ensure that businesses can operate safely for both their staff and their customers.

Social distancing, testing and hygiene measures for all Tasmanians to play their part as well.

And, importantly, the COVID Safe app, along with rapid response measures, to ensure that we can contact, track and trace.

We followed our three-stage plan, freezing our restrictions, and today, while our economy has obviously been impacted and many jobs have been affected, Tasmania overall appears to be cautiously confident in terms of where we stand at the moment and, importantly, unlike other jurisdictions, we haven’t had to take a backwards step in terms of the restrictions that we lifted and, importantly, we haven’t had to close down any businesses.

Other jurisdictions have not been so fortunate.

Victoria is without doubt in the fight of its life at the moment and has reintroduced stay at home restrictions and has, unfortunately, once again had to close down significant numbers of its businesses, and the consequential impact on jobs and employment that would flow from that.

New South Wales also has community transmission. It’s closed a number of venues and businesses and is today reintroducing some further restrictions in terms of public gathering sizes.

Western Australia and the ACT, as of today, have halted any further lifting of restrictions.

However, what is important is across the country Tasmania, along with five other jurisdictions, has no community transmission and zero or very low case numbers.

Tasmania is one of the safest places on the planet, and in Public Health’s view, so are South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, which are equally as safe.

And so, after a review and assessment by Public Health officials and with a range of additional border safety measures which we put in place at our sea and airports, we intend to create safe travel bubbles with those three states, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

This will occur in two weeks’ time, on Friday the 7th of August.

The Good to Go app, or the paper form if people can’t access the app, will need to be filled out accurately in terms of where passengers may have been in the last 14 days, and there will be fines of up to $16,800 or up to six months gaol for those who provide incorrect information.

Implementing from the 7th of August will allow our health and biosecurity officials the time to put in place our new safety measures at our airports and seaports.

This will include for every passenger a mandatory health check. All passenger arrivals will be checked.

Anyone that is identified of being unwell or having symptoms will be required to take a mandatory COVID test.

This will be conducted at the airport and at our seaports.

After testing, those people who had the test must remain in hotel or home quarantine until they receive the results of those tests.

Refusal to have a test will result in mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days, or they will be directed to return home on the next flight.

The TT-Line will continue to operate under their current arrangements, and passengers will not be carried if they don’t have a Tasmanian address or are an essential traveller.

The TT-Line will not be able to bring Western Australians or South Australians or those from the Northern Territory to Tasmania.

Furthermore, from next Friday, the 31st of July, we will be insisting on mandatory testing for essential workers at our airports and at our seaports.

For those essential workers that have come out of Victoria or have come out of a hotspot area of which there are currently six in New South Wales.

In terms of relaxing border restrictions with the other states. Unfortunately, due to the situation in Victoria, we will need to take a longer-term view on any relaxations with that state, and I can’t see Victoria being opened up to Tasmania any time in the near future.

But we’ll continue to monitor that situation on a weekly and monthly basis.

They will get on top of it.

And, again, as I’ve said on a number of occasions, our thoughts are with Victorians at the moment. They are in the fight of their lives, you know, and at the end of the day, I hope in the same way that Tasmanians took responsibility and followed the rules, that Victorians likewise follow the rules and do what’s necessary, so that that state can get on top of its challenges.

In terms of Queensland and New South Wales, obviously with the ACT involved as well, we’re going to take a position of caution.

We’ll provide an update on the 7th of August on possible timeframes and dates to relax restrictions with those states and that territory, based on circumstances at that time.

However, we will not open our border to either Queensland, New South Wales or the ACT any time before the 14th of August.

For those that are interested in the AFL, that will mean that those fixtures that have been pencilled in before that date, one I think on the 9th of August, on the Sunday, between North Melbourne and Melbourne will not go ahead, as those teams would be coming from Queensland.

We simply won’t put Tasmanians at risk, and we’ll continue to make decisions that we believe will keep Tasmanians safe and, importantly, that are sensible and responsible.

In terms of hotel quarantine, there will also be changes from next Friday, the 31st of July.

Quarantine at our quarantine hotels will from that date, Friday the 31st, be at a person’s own expense, except in cases of extreme hardship.

This means that anyone coming into Tasmania from the 31st of July will no longer have the state pay for their hotel expenses, but will be charged $2,800 per person for the 14 days, or if they’re a family, a family rate is being determined at the moment and will be announced early next week.

This will apply to any travellers coming in from interstate by air or for those on the Spirit of Tasmania where the vessel departed Melbourne after 12:01 am on the 31st of July. So, the boat that would leave on the 30th, if it’s in Tasmanians waters on the 31st, those passengers would be classified as being before that particular date.

There’ll be able to be exemptions requested by Tasmanians who may have to travel interstate to receive for example medical care or for compassionate reasons, and those arrangements will be set out next week.

Legislation will be introduced in the State Parliament at the next sitting to enable charging to occur.

Creating safe travel bubbles with states who are in as good a place as Tasmania will, I think, be welcomed by many people.

It’s the first step for our tourism and hospitality sector, but we will step back into this carefully and cautiously.

I will not hesitate to act on Public Health advice and out in place restrictions if and when they may be needed again.

Importantly, if we need to step back from any of these first three jurisdictions that we’re talking about, Public Health can restrict a location, a suburb, a municipality or a state within 30 minutes, if necessary.

We will ensure that we keep Tasmanians safe.

These are challenging times, but we must continue to move forward safely, responsibly and sensibly and, importantly, keep in place the safe processes that protect us all.

Importantly, for all Tasmanians, continue to do the right thing.

Maintain safe distances, continue to have good public hygiene, wash your hands regularly, importantly, stay home if you’re unwell and, importantly, get tested, even if you have only mild symptoms.

I’ll hand over to Dr Veitch to make some comments, and then we’ll take questions after that.

***