Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania


Premier Peter Gutwein:

This week we've continued to respond swiftly and proportionately to the COVID cases that have been identified up and down the eastern seaboard.

Firstly, can I say that our thoughts continue to be with the people of New South Wales who are obviously going through a difficult time at the moment, in particular Sydney, as they work to contain the number of COVID cases in that State.

Pleasingly, we were able to ease our border restrictions with Metropolitan Melbourne earlier this week, albeit there are still a range of high-risk premises, and I would obviously refer people to the website, if they're considering either travelling to Melbourne or coming from Melbourne and make certain that they use the Tas e-Travel app.

This week, we've made the call to tighten our restrictions with New South Wales in response to the evolving situation in that State.

This highlights just how uncertain and volatile the situation remains, and I want to stress that our first priority remains protecting the health and safety of Tasmanians.

Now, currently we have seven Local Government areas in Sydney, which are identified as high risk.

This morning, New South Wales have put in place a one-week lockdown on four of those Local Government areas, of which four are a part of the seven that we already have excluded in terms of travel.

This means anyone who's been in any of those Local Government areas on or since the 11th of June is not able to enter Tasmania, unless approved as an essential traveller, and this is the seven not than the four that have gone into lockdown, this is the seven Local Government areas that were previously advised.

Even if people are granted essential traveller status, including returning Tasmanian residents, restrictions such as 14 days quarantine remain part of the requirements for people to be allowed to enter.

At this stage, Tasmanian Public Health authorities advise that based on current assessment, it is these seven Local Government areas that are the source of the greatest risk, which is why they have been declared high risk, and obviously that fires on in terms of the actions that have been taken this morning by New South Wales in putting in place that one-week lockdown on four of those.

Based on ongoing assessment, if there is a need, and I want to be very clear about this, if there is a need to declare the greater Sydney area as high-risk, then we won't hesitate to do so.

Dr Veitch will be attending AHPPC shortly, and we'll obviously interact with both his colleagues from around the country, but specifically the New South Wales Public Health officials, and if there's a view formed that we need to take further action, then we'll provide an update later this day.

At the same time, we have a large number of high-risk premises across the greater Sydney Area, Queensland, New Zealand and the new ones in Victoria, as I've just referenced, and this also includes several flights between Australia and New Zealand.

All these premises have been identified as high-risk, due to being visited by a person with COVID.

This means that anyone who’s been at any of these premises and at the dates and times identified, and I refer again people back to the Tas Coronavirus website or, if considering travelling here, to the website in their own state or jurisdiction.

But if anyone has been to those premises at the dates and times identified, they'll not be able to enter Tasmania at this stage, and that includes Tasmanian residents.

As I’ve said, they're all listed on the Coronavirus website.

We continue to contact people who have arrived in Tasmania and who've been in affected jurisdictions to remind them of the requirements that may affect them, such as continuing to check the list of high-risk premises, monitoring for symptoms and, importantly, getting tested if needed.

While it's disappointing for many, the travel restrictions will remain part of the world, the high transmissibility of some of the COVID strains remains very concerning, the ease of transmission revealed in some of the cases in Sydney believed to be interactions lasting just a few seconds in some cases highlights that until we have enough people vaccinated, we must continue to use the necessary measures to ensure that we can protect our community.

And I encourage everyone to be aware that plans for travel, and I think most people are starting to accept this, plans for travel can be affected quickly.

Be aware of the latest restrictions wherever you are and take note of any requirements in other jurisdictions and register your travel for your return through the Tas e-Travel system to get back into Tasmania.

But, importantly, be aware of what's occurring in other states, if you are a Tasmania that is looking to travel out of the State.

Importantly, locally use the check-in TAS app to record your visits to venues, be vigilant for symptoms and get tested if you develop cold or flu like symptoms and continue to use the other COVID-safe behaviours such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and, importantly, stay home if unwell.

I can't stress that enough.

We had a busy weekend last weekend, and in the main people acted very responsibly but, importantly, don't turn up to work, don't go out, if you're feeling unwell get tested.

In terms of vaccinations, we've made another significant milestone this week, and I'll be handing over to Kathryn Morgan-Wicks in a moment.

We passed our 200,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine that’s been provided to Tasmanians, and in fact, we've now delivered 202,933 doses, including first and second doses, with over 36% of Tasmanians having received their first dose.

And again, in terms of the work that's been going on with our health teams around the state, it's just fantastic and, importantly, I encourage Tasmanians to continue to turn up.

Over 10% of Tasmanians have now been fully vaccinated.

We continue to lead the country in terms of our vaccination rates.

So, thanks, again, to those Tasmanians that have turned up, rolled up the sleeve and had the jab but, importantly, and again, I'll just acknowledge our health workers for their efforts through all of this.

This week, we've seen strong support for vaccination bookings, and as a result, we've opened up new appointments in our clinics.

It's pleasing that we're not seeing any, at this stage, effect on the number of people turning up for their second doses of AstraZeneca, and it's important, you know, if you've had your first dose, make sure that you get your second dose.

I'll be turning up in a couple of weeks to get mine as well.

Two doses of the vaccine will give the best protection against COVID-19, and if you have an appointment, as I've said, make sure that you turn up.

More GPs will be coming on line to participate in the program over the next few weeks, giving people in regional areas more options to access vaccinations.

And the message remains the same: don't wait, vaccinate.

It's important to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community.