Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 26 NOVEMBER 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone.

Sorry that we are a couple of minutes late, and Dr Veitch has very kindly left his Minister at Estimates to be here.

We’re continuing with our plan to gradually ease restrictions, including our border restrictions.

Now, as I’ve said, right across the country things are looking much better, and obviously as of midnight tonight, in fact shortly after midnight tonight, 12:01, our borders will open to Victoria.

This is a significant milestone, and for the first time in more than eight months we say to our Victorian visitors, welcome back, and to Tasmanians living in Victoria, welcome home.

The Director of Public Health attended an ASPPC meeting today and is currently considering information in relation to the situation in South Australia.

Obviously, things are still moving there, and the Director is well engaged and can [inaudible] more in terms of the South Australian situation, but as it stands at the moment, the medium risk arrangements that we have in place with South Australia will remain in place for the current period, but there will be an update in coming days on that from Public Health.

So, in the meantime, those people that are in quarantine that arrived from South Australia after 05:30pm on the 16th of November will need to remain in quarantine.

Anyone arriving from South Australia will need to quarantine at suitable premises until Public Health is satisfied the risk is again low, bearing in mind that those that have arrived from the 16th of November in a couple of days will have met their 14-days requirement anyway, but we’ll have a further update in coming days as we consider the information that’s been received [inaudible] current circumstances, and Dr Veitch obviously can speak about that more.

Just a couple of other matters I want to touch on, the free contact tracing app for venues to be able to use, if they wish, and I say this, if they wish, it’s not gonna be mandated that they must use this app, to move from paper-based systems or their current electronic collection methods.

The app will be available from the 1st of December.

Businesses will be able to register for a check-in TasQR Code opening today.

So, if businesses want to register they can.

Obviously, it’s mandated that cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs, you know, effectively those that serve alcohol, would need to ensure that they’re collecting contact tracing details of their patrons.

As I’ve said, if they’re using a paper-based system and they want to remain using that, they can.

This is just another tool that they can use, should they wish.

In terms of other matters, mercy flights and seasonal workers.

I’ve said quite clearly in this room that, you know, I think that we should do our bit to help Australian citizens that want to return home.

We’ve now reached agreement with the Australian Government on the level of support to be provided to allow the first mercy flight bringing Australians from overseas to arrive in Tasmania in the 6th of December.

That flight will come from Delhi, India.

The initial flight, as I indicated, we delayed until we were satisfied that all processes and procedures were in place.

I believe that we’ve got to that point now.

In terms of processes and practices for quarantining arrivals from overseas, we’ll obviously follow very closely Public Health advice, national best practice, and we’ll obviously take account of the recommendations of the Halton Victorian reviews of hotel quarantine.

All arrivals will undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine and routine testing while in quarantine.

As an additional safeguard, and I’ll make this point, this is a specific charter flight direct to Tasmania, and it’s the same with the charter flights that are arriving in the Northern Territory, travellers will be required to undergo a test and return a negative result before getting on the plane to travel.

If you consider what’s been happening in the international airports, as commercial flights have been coming, whilst with the best will in the world, I think that DFAT’s hope was that most people getting on to commercial flights would have been tested, depending on where they were leaving from.

At times that might have been somewhat patchy and, again, we’ve ended up with a certain percentage of travellers that have arrived back in the country and have then tested positive.

The aim is that with charter flights we will test passengers before they get on the plane, and they must have a negative test.

Now, obviously, we need to work in terms of infants and small children, but in the main passengers that travel back will be tested, and that will be an additional level of safeguard.

To support Tasmania with our efforts here, the Commonwealth will provide the following assistance.

Security and patrol of quarantine facilities with resources from the Australian Defence Force.

They will obviously facilitate through Border Force the arrival of Australians through the Hobart Airport.

They will use a hangar at the Airport.

They won’t actually access the terminal proper.

Additional health support will also be provided through the deployment of AUSMAT who we have had some experience with before.

On arrival at the airport, each guest will be provided with a surgical mask which they must keep on until they arrive in their hotel quarantine room.

Tasmanian Police will escort guests from the border entry point to the bus, and Tasmania police will provide an escort for the bus for the duration of the trip.

All authorities will have the appropriate PPE, including Tasmania Police, Biosecurity Tas and health officials, and all have been trained in its use.

Tasmania Police will be managing and supervising the security arrangements 24-7 at the quarantine hotel, with the support of ADF.

My understanding is that there will be two private security personnel per shift, but they will be providing.., there will be no supervisory role in terms of guests for private security personnel, they will simply monitoring the main doors and exits.

All guests will be regularly and routinely tested during the 14 days quarantine, will only be allowed into the community on returning a negative test consistent with AHPPC advice and protocols, and obviously overseen by Public Health.

In regards to seasonal workers, as we’ve indicated, you know, on current projections are the 9,000 seasonal workers that we require in the state, around 6,000 on current projections will be Tasmanians, which is broadly speaking about a doubling of the number of seasonal workers that we’ve had from within the state before.

Importantly, as I’ve said, there will be some seasonal workers that will arrive in Tasmania.

The first flight will be coming in on the 2nd of December.

It will be a flight from Timor Leste.

There’ll be around 150 workers.

They’ll be subject to health screening, 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine, including routine COVID testing, and will need, again, to provide a negative test before going out into our community.

The other matter I wanted to just quickly touch on was to ensure that everyone’s clear of the timeline that was discussed today in terms of Ruby Princess passengers coming into the state.

And I know that we put out a press release, but I just thought it was worthwhile just to cover this quickly.

On the 17th of March, the Public Health Director declared a public health emergency, on the same day directed any person that arrived from overseas on arrival on the 16th of March into Australia were to self-isolate for 14 days on entering Tasmania.

On the 29th of March, we further strengthened our border arrangements and all arrivals into Tasmania, regardless of whether they had travelled overseas or not, were required to self-isolate for 14 days.

And again on the 29th of March, we then again further strengthened our border arrangements and placed non-Tasmanian residents arriving in the state into hotel quarantine for 14 days.

The Ruby Princess docked.., or disembarked, I think, in Sydney on the 19th of March, and authorities in Sydney allowed those passengers to disembark and return home to their states and territories.

Any Tasmanians returning from the Ruby Princess to our state from the 19th of March were expected to self-isolate for 14 days.

New South Wales Health announced on the 20th of March that four people on the cruise ship Ruby Princess had tested positive to COVID-19, and obviously there was a process that was followed by Public Health here in terms of those returnees.

Importantly, I just want to once again just remind Tasmanians that everyone needs to continue to do the right thing, we’re to continue to work together, so please remember to wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you’re unwell and don’t hesitate to get tested, even if you have mild symptoms.

Now, I can hand over to Dr Veitch who can discuss South Australia or take questions on South Australia, if you wish, and other matters, and I’ll come back for further questions.