Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 31 JULY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

I’ve got Dr McKeown and Dr Veitch with me today. If there are matters of detail in terms of borders and other matters, I think Dr McKeown’s going to assist in those as he has been living and breathing it, as I understand.

Now, if I could just say that our number one priority throughout this has been the health and safety of Tasmanians.

I’m pleased to report that we have no active cases here in our state as of today, following the recovery of that young woman who was recently diagnosed in hotel quarantine.

It’s also pleasing to note that testing levels continue to remain high with nearly 700 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, and now more than 68,000 tests conducted altogether.

We take great comfort from the good position that we’re in at the moment.

We only have to look across Bass Strait to see how fortunate we are, but how quickly matters can get away from you.

I wat to say very clearly that I offer my utmost sympathies to Victoria at the moment.

I am certain that for many Tasmanians that have family and friends in Victoria, obviously we’re thinking of you and we’re thinking of all Victorians at this moment.

They are in the fight of their lives.

It is very critical that we remain vigilant here in Tasmania.

We must continue to stick to the rules. We must take personal responsibility, make certain that we look after our own hygiene, that we socially distance and, importantly, that we follow the rules. That is the best way to ensure that we protect ourselves, each other, our communities, importantly, the people that we love.

This virus will spread and spread quickly. It’s quite obvious in terms of what’s occurred in Victoria.

Slightly different situation in New South Wales, but obviously they are battling at the moment as well, and we can see how quickly things can turn in terms of Queensland.

And, importantly, I want to say to anyone that’s entering Tasmania, you know, ensure that you do the right thing. Tell the truth. Do not think that you can get away with entering the state if you’ve been in a hot spot or you’re coming out of Victoria or you’ve travelled to an area that you shouldn’t have.

We need to know. This is about ensuring that we keep this state safe, and if you don’t tell the truth, we will catch you and we will throw the book at you.

Fines of up to $16,800 and up to six months in gaol.

It is important that you do the right thing. No ifs or buts, this is critical. It is life and death, and it’s important that you follow those rules.

Since the 9th of July, when we re-implemented the mandatory hotel quarantine for people returning from Victoria, 11 people have been turned back at our borders that have arrived in the state, and we’ve said, unfortunately, you need to return to your home port.

We’ve also charged three people for breaching quarantine protocols, and we will continue to do so.

This is important. It is about ensuring that we save lives.

I’d say to anybody that is looking to enter the state and is prepared to be untruthful about it, it’s simply not worth it. Now, we will catch you, we will charge you, we will throw the book at you.

In terms of travel back to Tasmania at the moment.

Currently, travelling to Tasmania from any jurisdiction on the mainland, as it stands at the moment, will mean that you will either enter hotel quarantine, you will enter home quarantine if you’re a Tasmanian travelling from outside of Victoria or a designated hot spot.

If you are a Victorian attempting to enter Tasmania, you will be stopped and you’ll be asked to return home, as will someone from New South Wales if they are attempting to enter from a hot spot, and we’ll be adding today some Queensland hot spots to our list as well, and you will be asked to return.

We need to keep people safe. We need to do everything that we can to ensure that we protect our borders, that we protect Tasmanians, importantly, we protect the communities here and obviously our families and those people that we care for.

In terms of essential travellers. As we announced last week, from today there is mandatory testing which includes a health check for symptoms of all essential travellers from Victoria or determined hot spots such as those outlined by the New South Wales Government, and as I’ve said, we’ll be adding some site-specific locations in Queensland as well later today.

In regards to freight and logistics operators. We began today mandatory testing. This means that freight and logistics operators will need to undergo a test on arrival into the state, unless they have evidence of having had a COVID-19 test not less than seven days prior to their arrival in Tasmania, which is what I announced last week.

Also from today, if you travel by air, or tomorrow if you travel by sea, all non-Tasmanian and Tasmanian residents who are required to stay in mandatory Government-designated hotel quarantine will do so at their own expense.

There will be hardship provisions, and we will work with individuals in terms of their personal circumstances, but for those that are coming to Tasmania and are required to remain in hotel quarantine, the charge will be $2,800 per individual.

There will be a per person rate for couples and families. It will be $3,800, if you are a couple and between $4,300 and $4,800 for families, dependent on the number of children who are travelling with you.

Regarding the situation that’s occurring in Victoria, obviously we have Tasmanians at the moment that are looking to come home.

What I would say to you, and without dissuading you, I would suggest right now it is most important that you’d limit your travel options within Victoria, that you follow the rules within Victoria.

We’re not going to say that you cannot come back, but we would like you to think very carefully about your travel options at this particular time, bearing in mind that if you do come back to Tasmania from Victoria, you will be placed into hotel quarantine and you’ll pay for the privilege.

We want to keep our state safe.

But at the moment, you know, if you are in Victoria, I would urge all Tasmanians to follow the Victorian rules very carefully.

In terms of essential travellers from Victoria. As I’ve indicated before, essential travellers will only be allowed out of Victoria, if businesses aren’t able to source those skills out of any other state other than Victoria and, you know, we have set the bar much higher. It’s only for lifesaving or industry-critical needs that you can enter the state as an essential traveller.

I understand that at this point we’ve allowed around a handful of people in under those circumstances, the State Controller has advised me just recently.

Tasmanians who need to travel for compassionate or medical reasons to Victoria will still be able to apply for exemptions, but please know that, again, the bar has been set high and thee are being carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis by the State Controller.

Last week we announced that we would relax border restrictions with other safe states from 7th of August, including South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Obviously, in terms of Western Australia, they have border restrictions in place, and they will quarantine a Tasmanian should they arrive there. Western Australians who want to come this way are able to do so from the 7th, subject to a health check at the border and if necessary mandatory testing.

In terms of direct flights between Tasmania and South Australia, there will be three direct flights, as I understand it, available. These flights will be available out of Hobart.

In terms of South Australians travelling to Tasmania, the South Australian Government has ruled out South Australians returning via Tullamarine, und likewise for any Tasmanian that would travel via Tullamarine, they would treat you as a Victorian, and you’ll either be quarantined or you’ll be asked to return.

So, again, for those that are looking to travel, I would suggest that you take into account what is on the South Australian, the West Australian or the Northern Territory websites before you book your passage.

Next week we’ve also indicated that we’ll provide an update on border relaxations with Queensland, the ACT and New South Wales.

However, I think it’s fair to say that, you know, we are watching this very, very carefully. This is a day-by-day proposition.

The circumstances in New South Wales appear to be manageable by that Government, but obviously they have community transmission and then, unfortunately, we have the circumstance that has occurred in Queensland where people have not been prepared to tell the truth and have lied about entering the state, and they now have a number of sites that are obviously being locked down, and in fact that’s quite an extensive number of sites that the Queensland Government is concerned about.

So, we will be watching that very carefully, and we will provide an update on borders this time next Friday.

I want to just say to Tasmanians, very clearly, in terms of what we are seeing occur in Victoria especially.

Right now is the time for us all to think of each other. Right now is the time for us not to be complacent. Right now is the time for us to respect the damage that this virus can cause, the heartache that this virus can cause, the cost to human life that this virus can cause.

We’ve seen it roll out in Victoria, a dreadful set of circumstances at the moment, as they struggle to get on top of what is quite extensive community transmission.

Now, I would say to Tasmanians that now more than ever, do not become complacent. Practice good personal hygiene, follow the social distancing rules, ensure that you have COVID Safety plans in place at your business or at those sporting clubs that you might attend and do the right thing.

This is about protecting you, it’s about protecting your family, it’s about protecting your community, importantly, it’s about protecting everybody in this state.

And I would say to younger people, it is interesting, looking at the numbers as they increase in Victoria, that in large part the fastest growth in terms of case numbers has been in the lower age groups.

I would say to young adults and young people in this state, you know, don’t go and line up with 50 other people if you’re looking to get into a hotel, don’t stand with a group of 20 people that you have never met before and forget to socially distance.

This is about protecting your life but, importantly, if you’re a younger Tasmanian, it’s about protecting the lives of your parents, it’s about protecting the lives of your grandparents and the lives of their friends.

You know, think before you become complacent. Do the right thing.

You know, we have the state in a good spot at the moment, but it will only remain in that safe place if we all continue to do the right things, if we follow the rules that have been outlined by Public Health, sensible rules that have got us this far.

You know, I would just urge every Tasmanian when they watch the television news or however they receive their news feed, you know, look carefully at what’s occurring in Victoria, look carefully at what’s occurring in New South Wales, look carefully at what has occurred, unfortunately, in Queensland, and make certain that our state stays safe and the place that it is at the moment.

I’ll hand over to Dr Veitch now and I’ll take questions in a moment.