Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania


Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone.

I have Dr Veitch with me and Kathryn Morgan-Wicks.

Now, I think you’re aware that I need to leave a little around quarter past to get back across the road for Parliament.

The current situation with COVID outbreaks in certain states across Australia again demonstrates how quickly this virus will spread.

As always, our priority is the health and safety of Tasmanians.

We’re continuing to monitor the situation very closely, and we’re responding in line with Public Health advice.

Yesterday, in response to large parts of Queensland entering a snap three-day lockdown from 6pm, Tasmania responded.

Thirteen Local Government Areas in Queensland are now declared as high-risk, meaning anyone who's been in any of these areas on or since the 19th of June will not be permitted to enter Tasmania, unless they are approved as an essential traveller.

Now, obviously, we have widespread travel restrictions in place with other areas of the country, or premises in those areas, in terms of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and New Zealand.

Alice Springs has just obviously ended a 72-hour lockdown and has been declared by our Public Health officials as a high-risk Level 2 area, which means don't come unless you have an exemption.

And Dr Veitch will provide them some further detail in regards to that.

Now, we continue to take a strong, risk-based approach to managing our borders in line with Public Health advice.

We need to ensure we maintain strong internal processes, given the number of high-risk areas across the country.

This includes continuing our health screening at sea and airports.

You know, we have as a result of the increase in terms of the national risk provided our police support back at our airports to support our border control people that are provided by DPIPWE, and they will be there and will meet the vast majority of flights, but especially those who have come to us from high-risk areas.

At the same time, we recognise that due to our stringent process in place at our airports, it's been taking some time to process people, and I do acknowledge that.

However, as I've said, I don’t apologise for that.

You know, we can always do things better, and that's exactly what we're going to try and do.

And I'm pleased to confirm that there has been constructive and positive discussions with the Hobart Airport on how to undertake this process in a more efficient way to ensure it's faster without negating any of the critical health and safety screening processes.

As part of this, we'll be establishing a new marquee to provide more cover from the weather, so that nobody needs to wait in the cold, and we'll be ensuring that in terms of that, that there is some heating and seats as well provided.

But if I could make this point, the thing that actually slows down our processing is when people don't complete the Tas e-Travel app on the other side of the journey, and so we're also going to be providing some security personnel in the major airports that will interact with Tasmanians, or visitors to Tasmania, to ensure that they complete a Tas e-Travel app for anybody that has travelled, and I think most people would recognise that we have the best border controls in the country in terms of the processes that we go through in terms of the checking when people arrive at our borders.

We do not intend to let our guard down in that regard, but we will assist people and ensure that they can complete the forms and be ready to move through.

In terms of further steps that we'll be taking, from next week we're going to be making our check-in Tas app mandatory for retailers.

This will include supermarkets, shopping centres and big box outlets.

We’ll be expanding this from the other settings where it is obviously already mandatory.

This will obviously capture, as I've said, major supermarkets, shopping malls, also Bunnings, other large big box outlets as well.

And we will be reaching out, Business Tasmania will directly communicate with those businesses in terms of this requirement.

And I would like to acknowledge though that, in the main, many supermarkets, big boxes, already do have the check-in Tas app.

You know, I don't think I've been into a big box retailer that hasn't offered hand sanitiser or the option for a check-in Tas app, nor most major supermarkets.

So, they're already partway there, but it will be mandatory from a date next week, which Dr Veitch in coming days will advise.

In terms of masks, Public Health has just completed discussions with the Festival of Voice organisers and Events Tasmania about a requirement to wear face masks at festival activities.

Now, this action, and I will outline what that is in a moment, but this action has been taken because of the current national level COVID-19 risk.

And the characteristics of the Festival of Voice events, following these, the discussions that have been underway, from tonight onwards participants, the audience, support staff and volunteers will be required to wear a mask at all of the Festival’s events, except the performers when actually singing.

There'll be some exemptions for people unable to wear a mask for health and safety reasons and allowance for the temporary removal of the mask for activities such as eating or drinking at these events.

Persons 11 years and younger are exempted, but are encouraged to wear a mask.

As a result.., there will also be some small pop-up events, outdoor pop-ups and small participatory workshop settings that will also be exempt, but that will be communicated clearly as well.

People are encouraged to please bring their own masks if they can, however, the Department of State Growth is providing a limited back-up supply of masks, and I understand that the organisers already have a Festival of the Voice face mask as well, I think.

Now, Public Health will continue to review the need to extend mask wearing to other events and activities in line with national COVID circumstances and the rest of Tasmania, and that will be an ongoing process, as we normally do with our current restrictions.

In terms of football and the match this Saturday between Fremantle and Carlton, which has been proposed for UTAS Stadium in Launceston, as a result of the current national risk, the game will not go ahead in Tasmania.

I know that will disappoint many people, especially Carlton supporters, who I'm sure there are many of in the state.

We've just advised the AFL of that decision.

We don't expect that this will have any further implications for the roster moving forward but, as with all things, we will be guided by Public Health.

Now, in terms of other safeguards and vaccination, while we don't have COVID cases in our community, it is very important that we remain vigilant, as we have done for the last 18 months.

And I want to make the point that I made yesterday again, it is my expectation, and it has been right through this, that at some stage we will have another case of COVID.

It is important that we take every step that we can to ensure that we take responsibility for ourselves and do the right things.

Our safeguards which we have in place, our testing, tracing, rapid response and vaccination aspects are very important with the framework that we have to protect us.

There is no doubt that vaccination remains one of our most important tools in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Now, at the moment, we are leading the country in terms of vaccination.

37.2% of eligible Tasmanians have now received at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and we now have just under 12%, or nearly 51,000 Tasmanians or close enough, who are now fully vaccinated.

Our recent mapping of Tasmania's vaccination doses indicates that COVID-19 vaccinations are being delivered across all parts of Tasmania and at a faster rate than in other jurisdictions.

But we can't become complacent.

We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community, and so I would encourage people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.

In relation to the role of Tasmanian pharmacies in the vaccine rollout, I can advise that we're working on a solution.

I’ll be in a position to advise on which pharmacies will be taking part in a rollout by the end of next week.

But I just want to make this point, in terms of where pharmacies are being brought on board on the mainland.

They are playing catch-up, other states are well behind us, and jurisdictions.

We have through our state clinics and the very good work of both the Department of Health and also Public Health, our state-run clinics and the rollout of our GPs is working well here, and we are on track but, importantly, we will do what we can in terms of ensuring that the options are available.

We are now in the process of advertising for all authorised pharmacist immunisers to be part of the state clinic workforce.

So, if you're a pharmacist and you want to take part immediately, you know, I would encourage you to put in an application, and we will certainly make use of your skills in the state-run clinics, as we work forward.

As per the Federal Government's announcement yesterday, Tasmanians working in the aged care sector will now be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment from September, the 21st of September, and I encourage them to please take the opportunity to get the vaccine now.

As I said yesterday, between 70% to 80% of our aged care workforce has already been vaccinated.

You know, I would encouraged those that haven't to either through their GP or a state-run clinic, get the jab.

Furthermore, any Tasmanian working in the quarantine and Border Force sector who haven't yet been vaccinated, and their eligible household contacts, are also strongly encouraged to get their vaccines.

My message to Tasmanians today is let's all keep on top of COVID, you know, and don't wait, vaccinate.

Use the check-in app to record your visits to venues, stay home and organise a test if you have any flu or cold-like symptoms and continue using our COVID safe behaviours such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and, importantly, stay home if unwell.