Premier Peter Gutwein
Can I just begin by saying first of all that right through this, our number one priority has been to protect the health and safety of Tasmanians and to save lives. And Tasmania is in a good place, but obviously we have challenges in other states that we need to be cognisant of.
We have some of the strongest border restrictions in the country, and it’s been a very important safeguard to ensure that we can protect Tasmanians from the risk of the virus.
This has not been easy for Tasmanians, and as we stand here today, we’re now more than 50 days though without a positive case.
And Tasmanians need to be congratulated for their efforts. It’s been nothing short of outstanding and, imp, Tasmanians have followed the rules, they’ve dealt with some really difficult personal circumstances and we’ve got to a good place.
But this isn’t over, and it’s not over by a long shot yet.
The other point I’ve made in my opening remarks as well, I’ve said we will see, as we have said on many occasions when we’ve stood in this room, that we will see positive cases in Tasmania.
We are well prepared tough, but I think that Tasmanians should remain vigilant and aware, importantly, that, you know, this is a highly infectious virus, and there will be at times cases and we will need to respond when they emerge.
If anything, the events of the past week have underlined just how infectious this disease is, and the situation in Victoria at the moment, now as millions of people are back into lockdown, once again forced to stay home to save lives, and I want to extend our thoughts and support to the Victorians that are in lockdown at the moment and to those that are doing their very best to ensure that they can keep that community safe.
It is a difficult period of time and it’s important that, I think as a country, we acknowledge that Victoria will go through some very difficult circumstances.
However, what this messages to me though is that it is so important that we don’t become complacent, that we don’t think that this is over. We need to remain vigilant, we need to remain disciplined and, importantly, we need to ensure that we do everything we can to keep ourselves safe, our families safe and our communities safe.
We have made decisions based on Public Health advice every step of the way and we will continue to do that.
Our aim is to ensure that Tasmania doesn’t suffer a second wave, as Victoria is now suffering.
Our aim has been to protect our communities, to support our healthcare workers, to protect our businesses and to ensure that as we gradually step back into a more normal way of life that we can do so safely.
Right now, we’re all enjoying activities that for a period of time there we couldn’t enjoy. We’re going and having lunch with friends, we’re playing sport, we’re doing a lot of things in our community that once we took for granted, and then we took those small activities away from people, and we had to, as a state, do some very, very tough things.
It’s important that we continue to ensure that we don’t forget, that we don’t become complacent, that we don’t go back to that.
And to the businesses in Victoria, the thousands of businesses in Victoria, that we certainly do not want to put Tasmanians back in that position where small businesses have reopened, businesses of a larger scale as well, and a second wave would be devastating.
I cannot stress that enough but, importantly, we are in a good place. And if we remain vigilant, if we remain disciplined, if we remain responsible, we will manage our way through this effectively and safely.
Now, in terms of what’s occurring in Victoria. We will continue to assess the border risks and our restrictions in terms of travel, as I’ve said, over the period until the 24th.
But it’s important that we respond to the circumstances that are occurring in Victoria at this time, and I want to outline some changes.
As of midnight tonight, we’ll put in place additional restrictions on Victorian travellers, as I’ve said, effective from midnight tonight.
Last Sunday evening, we put in place additional restrictions on essential travellers from Victoria, including additional hygiene and movement restrictions, in response to what was occurring in the Melbourne community.
Those travellers were contacted directly. That’s why we haven’t been speaking about it. Its one of those things that the people that need to know were contacted and those restrictions were put in place. But it’s important to know that those restrictions were put in place at that particular time.
Victorians will not be allowed to travel to Tasmania, and anyone who has spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to travel will not be permitted to travel either.
The only exception to that will be Tasmanians returning home, and they will have quarantining arrangements.
If visitors arrive from Victoria without an exemption letter, they will be asked to return home.
I know that is difficult, but at the end of the day, we need to be very clear in terms of what’s occurring with our borders. And they will be turned back at their own expense.
Tasmanians who spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to travel will be required to quarantine in one of our Government hotels.
As Tasmanians would be aware, in recent times, Tasmanians returning to Tasmania could quarantine in their home. Tasmanians that have spent time in the last 14 days in Victoria prior to returning to Tasmania will be asked to quarantine in one of our Government hotels.
And this will include families with children and also fly-in fly-out workers, if they are Tasmanians that are flying into Victoria and working in Victoria and coming home.
While Victorians can apply for compassionate exemption to travel to Tasmania, these exemptions are unlikely to be granted in the short term, due to the rapidly changing circumstances in Victoria, and I would say to businesses and organisations in Tasmania that are seeking essential workers, you will need to demonstrate that that expertise cannot be recruited from any other state in the country first.
Currently, the benchmark is that we don’t have those skills here in Tasmania, and we will then look at providing an exemption, and the Commissioner makes those decisions.
But we will be asking anyone that’s seeking an essential worker exemption from Victoria, or for a Victorian, that they will need to demonstrate that those skills are not available in Tasmania first.