Dr Mark Veitch, Director of Public Health
A further extension of the Public Health Emergency Declaration has been declared under the Public Health Act 1997 (the Act), until 30 June 2022.
We have recently experienced two epidemic waves of Omicron variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nearly a third of Tasmanians have been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far this year. Sadly, during that time, COVID-19 has contributed to the death of nearly 60 people.
We have achieved very high levels of primary vaccination among eligible people. Uptake of boosters has been good, but there are still many eligible Tasmanians yet to get their dose. And now we have an additional winter dose available for people most at risk of harm from COVID-19.
As case numbers slowly fall, and complications of COVID-19 remain manageable by our health system, we are approaching the time when the public health powers and actions enabled by the Public Health Emergency Declaration will no longer be needed to manage the threat posed by COVID-19.
Although we expect to transition out of the state of Public Health Emergency by 30 June, this does not mean that COVID-19 will be over.
However, the ongoing public health threat posed by COVID-19 will soon be manageable with
* workplace health and safety practices,
* cases and contacts of COVID-19 managed as are other notifiable communicable diseases, using non-emergency powers of the Public Health Act 1997, and
* community practice of COVID-safe behaviours.
For the time being, existing emergency directions remain in place. Over the coming weeks we will provide Tasmanians with more information about what will change, what will stay the same, and what we all still need to do keep our communities safe from harm from COVID-19.
COVID-safe behaviours, such as vaccination, mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home and getting tested if you have symptoms, remain the best ways to protect against COVID-19.
The transition to this new phase of Tasmania’s response to COVID-19 will have significant implications for businesses and workplaces across Tasmania, as work health and safety requirements become key mechanisms for managing COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
I expect this will be that last extension of the Public Health Emergency Declaration. This will provide sufficient time for agencies, businesses, and organisations to embed COVID safety planning and behaviours in their business-as-usual risk management.
By working with stakeholders and communicating widely we aim to promote public confidence and participation in a transition to seeing COVID-19 as a common, familiar and manageable communicable disease.