Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 27 OCTOBER 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

I’ll start where I have started so many of these before, that obviously our aim since the beginning of this pandemic and its impact since earlier this year has been to keep Tasmanians healthy and, importantly, safe.

Now, yesterday we opened our borders to low-risk jurisdictions, marking a new phase in our COVID recovery journey.

We saw around 600 people arrive by air across seven flights yesterday, and our processes and systems held up well, in fact they performed exactly as we had hoped they would.

Passengers were health-screened which included temperature checks and there were questions regarding whether they have symptoms.

I can report that nobody was referred for a test as a result of those processes.

This morning, the first Spirit of Tasmania ferry who arrived under the new arrangements sailed into Devonport.

I’m advised by the TT-Line that all Government agencies on site performed.., and this is TT-Line’s and I thank them for it, performed excellently, and the process moved along well with more than 80 cars disembarking this morning.

As I said yesterday, we are safe, we are prepared and it was, I must admit, very heart-warming last night to see the pictures on the media of those families being reunited, albeit not a lot of social distancing occurring at that moment, but it was fantastic to see people so happy about being able to reunite with their families.

The fact that so many families were able to reunite yesterday was as a result of Tasmanians doing the right thing through this. They followed advice, they’ve made sacrifices and they have followed the rules, as we worked our way through this period, and I want to thank them all again for that.

But, as I’ve said before and I’ll continue to point out, it’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels, that we continue to do the right thing, to follow the rules and practice COVID-safe behaviours.

I do want to thank everyone who’s working hard at the moment to keep our borders safe.

I want to reach out especially to Tasmania Police personnel, Biosecurity staff and our teams at the airports and seaports who are doing a very good job.

I’d like to reiterate today that people coming from low-risk areas can use the Tas-E travel registration system prior to coming to Tasmania, which can be found on the Tasmanian Government coronavirus website.

So, I understand that the vast majority of people did use that app, but some had to complete their paperwork on arrival but, in the main, the vast majority had already put their details into that app.

Travellers from medium and high-risk areas are still required to provide their details by the Good2Go pass system, nothing has changed there.

And I ask again the travellers coming into our state, please follow the instructions of our officials at our air and seaports, and if you can, ensure that you filled out your travel app before travel.

These are obviously new processes for everyone, and we want to ensure that this is done as seamlessly as possible, with as little delay at our airports, but the message that I heard yesterday was that in terms of the first flight that we had through, that more than 180 passengers passed through the airport in just under half an hour as a result of screening.

So, it’s occurring quite quickly, and whilst it may be frustrating on some days - we haven’t seen that yet -, I would ask people as they enter the state to follow the rules, do the right thing and just bear with us. This is about keeping everyone safe in Tasmania, including them and their families.

Now, I want to just touch on New South Wales.

New South Wales has been considered a medium-risk area, as we outlined last week from 26th which means that people travelling from New South Wales are able to quarantine from home, if they have a suitable residence to quarantine at. If they don’t, then they will obviously go into Government accommodation.

Public Health have now given further consideration to the situation in New South Wales, and as I said last week, we would target the week beginning November 2nd, on the Monday.

We’ve looked at the opportunity for this to occur, and I’m pleased to announce today that it is our intention to classify New South Wales as a low-risk area and relax the border restrictions with that state effective from Friday the 6th of that week, so Friday the 6th of November.

Dr Veitch will speak more about the detail around this, but one of the benchmark tests has been explained is that what we want to see in the jurisdiction that we open up to is less than five cases of unknown transmission in the last 28 days.

New South Wales currently over the last 28 days has had six only in a population of nearly eight million people, so they are on top of this, but we want to ensure that as we move closer to Friday that there are no further major outbreaks occurring in that state.

But at this stage they look on balance very safe in terms of their population size and the relative risk to Tasmania, and so we will target that Friday 6th November, but obviously we will take Public Health advice along the way.

Now, what that would mean is that passengers arriving from New South Wales wouldn’t need to quarantine effective from Friday 6th November. As I’ve said, Public Health will of course continue to monitor the situation.

In terms of Victoria, at this stage, you know, could I just say that it is so pleasing to see them driving their numbers so low.

However, obviously they have been dealing with the most significant second wave in the country, and we will continue to keep that situation under advisement from Public Health.

We’re still targeting December 1st, but as I’ve always said, we’ll be responsive to the evolving situation there and that advice will be based on Public Health advice.

Now, it is important, and again I just want to reiterate to all Tasmanians again that we need to keep on top of COVID.

We’ve been rolling out messaging across our televisions, our radio, printed online media outlets to remind Tasmania of the rules.

Remember to physically distance, take responsibility for yourself, for your own safety and, importantly, in doing so you’ll keep safe your family, you’ll keep safe your community and you’ll keep safe Tasmania.

Cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are unwell.

We have put a range of supports in place.

If you are a casual worker, if you have run out of sick leave, the Government is here to support you, and in concert with the Federal Government, we will do so.

So, make certain that if you are unwell, do not go to work, don’t hesitate to go and get a test, even if your symptoms are mild.

Importantly, to Tasmanians, you know, there have been some discussions in this room about whether or not people are becoming complacent.

You know, it is important that we remain vigilant, that we remain disciplined.

We are in a good place, but we have to live with this virus and the threat of this virus and, importantly, if we all continue to follow the rules, then we will continue to keep Tasmania a safe place.

Importantly, if we can keep on top of COVID together, as we have right through this, then we will be able to gradually move forward with our border-opening strategy in terms of ensuring that we can bring more families and friends home, importantly, that we can support our industries.

But, the most important thing that people must remember is that personal responsibility’s what’s important.

Ensure that you socially distance, ensure that you cover your coughs and sneezes, ensure that you have good hand hygiene and, importantly, continue to follow the rules.

I’ll pass over to Dr Veitch.