Good afternoon everyone.
Today I’m joined once again by Dr Veitch and the State Health Commander Kathryn Morgan-Wicks, and we just recently finished a meeting of National Cabinet.
Since our last update, we’ve been able to ease some of the border restrictions we had in place for a number of areas across the country, following the risk level in those jurisdictions reducing.
On Wednesday, 11 of the 13 Local Government Areas in Queensland were reclassified to low risk, while the City of Brisbane and Moreton Bay region have remained high risk.
Today, I’m pleased to inform you that both the Brisbane and Moreton Bay areas will also be downgraded to low risk from midnight tonight.
While there is still a number of premises declared high risk in that state, it’s good news that we’ll be able to relax the broad-ranging restrictions in time for the second week of school holidays.
I do want to once again express the need for caution.
Anyone travelling should check the website.
If you’ve been to a high-risk premise at the times that are listed on the website, you will not be allowed to enter Tasmania, and if you’re travelling to Queensland or to a number of other jurisdictions around the country, check the website, there are a number that have high-risk premises listed, make certain that you’re mindful of your travel.
In terms of New South Wales, they continue to work to get on top of what is a very concerning outbreak.
A further 44 cases reported today, 27 of which were in their community whilst infectious.
This is a very difficult moment for New South Wales.
Tasmania’s border restrictions with the Greater Sydney Area and several adjoining Local Government Areas in New South Wales will remain in place for as long as it takes for that state to get on top of the outbreak.
At this time, it’s apparent that the outbreak hasn’t spread to regional New South Wales, and there is some confidence that that may be able to be maintained but, again, they are in a very difficult circumstances at the moment.
In terms of Queensland, at high-risk premises, there are a number of premises across the country that remain identified as high risk, and I've recently run through the website, there are a significant number.
Please ensure if you are travelling that you are mindful of those high-risk locations and, importantly, if looking to travel to Tasmania, you won't be allowed to travel if you've attended those premises at the times that are listed.
As I've said, the health and safety of Tasmanians remains our number one priority.
Again, please be aware of the risk that the travel does pose but, importantly, be mindful that your plans could change at any time, especially in terms of the New South Wales circumstance.
I just want to touch on Check-in Tas compliances. We've marked a number of important changes for use in the Check-in Tas app, and could I just say that I'm very pleased in terms of the businesses that I've been to this week that are now displaying the QR code, and some of those won't be mandated until the end of the month. Importantly, having watched a lot of Tasmanians taking the time to check in, it only takes a couple of seconds, and I’d encourage people to continue to do it.
In terms of the changes, there is obviously now an expanded list of businesses that are on the website that have been asked to use to Check-in Tas app.
For those businesses, they will need to have it in place by the end of the month, and I’d urge them to continue to work towards that, importantly, get it up, if they haven't already.
All Tasmanians, aged 16 years and older, are now required to check in whenever they enter a premises displaying a QR code, irrespective of the period of time they are in the premises.
I have to say I've had some very good interactions with staff in a number of premises where they're just reminding people as you come in to make certain that you're using the QR code.
As well, we've had a number of businesses that this week have signed up.
In fact, on Tuesday alone, 1,200 businesses registered around the state to bring themselves online for the 31 July timeframe, which is fantastic.
In fact, it was, on that particular day, almost a doubling of the previous highest number of registrations.
So, Tasmanian businesses are hearing the message, and I would hope that Tasmanians won't become complacent, they’ll continue to follow the rules and check in.
In terms of National Cabinet, we had discussions on a range of matters today.
Importantly, part of the focus was on residential disability support workers, to ensure that they have their vaccination as soon as possible.
Later next month, we will consider whether or not there's a need to mandate vaccination for disability support workers in high-risk residential settings.
A target date of the end of October to have residential disability support workers vaccinated, and we'll continue to work with the Commonwealth to ensure that the opportunities are provided for those residential disability support workers.
And I know one of our local newspapers have a very positive story about a clinic that was being run this week, so thank you for that.
We'll be working with industries whose employees travel widely, like those in aviation, mining, freight sectors, to ensure that we promote, facilitate vaccination of their workforces.
Further consideration will continue as to whether or not vaccines could be or should be mandated for those settings.
At this stage there's no move to mandate, but we would encourage industry sectors to ensure that they continue to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated.
We'll also had a conversation in terms of international borders, and a pilot will be run in states that put their hand up for it, I think South Australia will be one of the first, and they'll be looking at an agreed process that would start with pilot trials of 14-day home quarantine for people that are appropriately vaccinated that either leave and return to the country or are coming into the country.
Tasmania won't be taking part in those pilot trials.
In relation to the vaccination effort here in Tasmania, I'm pleased to report that Tasmanians are doing very well, and at the end of week 20 of the rollout almost 40% of Tasmanians, I think it's 39.6%, have now received at least one dose, and over 15% are now fully vaccinated with two doses.
I’d stress and make the point that you need to get your second dose.
For those like myself who’ve had AstraZeneca, I'll be having my second dose in about 10 days’ time, I'd encourage you to make certain that you've got your booking, and I understand that our bookings are very strong.
Importantly, this week the vaccination program’s focus has been on making sure Tasmanians living with disability, their carers and people working in the disability and aged care sector have had a greater opportunity to get vaccinated, and additional support clinics in Hobart and Launceston are now open, and my message to Tasmanians who fall into these categories, particularly workers in disability and aged carers is, get in now, get your vaccine to protect the vulnerable people that you work with, yourself and your families.
By 21 September it will be mandatory for all aged care workers to have had their first dose of vaccine, and if you work in aged care and have not had your first dose yet, now's the time.
The message is: don't wait, vaccinate.
Today, I'm also pleased to announce that to help us lift our vaccination rate in Tasmania, once we receive increased vaccine supply, we'll work to approve up to a dozen urban pharmacies in areas of Hobart, Launceston and Devonport, where there is low GP coverage or low rates of vaccination.
I understand that in Launceston and Hobart, it’ll particularly be in North Hobart and beyond, and in Launceston, in the northern suburbs of Launceston.
These pharmacies have already been approved by the Commonwealth and, through the state approval process, which Kath will provide an update on and provide further detail there.
We also this week participated in a national planning exercise which gave each state and territory the opportunity to outline to the Commonwealth the support that may be needed as we ramp up the program with increased doses becoming available over the coming months, and we're now working on that detailed strategy, noting the Prime Minister's announcement today about bringing forward of the Pfizer vaccine.
Importantly, what is occurring in New South Wales right now is a wake-up call that this is not the time for complacency, so please ensure that you continue to use the Check-in Tas app to record your visits to venues and organise a test if you have any flu or cold symptoms.
I want to just mention one matter that Dr Veitch will go into in a bit more detail and this demonstrates the abundance of caution in which Public Health in your State and the Government is approaching this matter.
We've had two Launcestonians that recently left Tasmania that had had a negative test before leaving the State, that have then flown to Melbourne, and then flown to Singapore, and then flown on to London.
One of them, within a 48-hour period, then tested positive in London.
And so, Public Health are working their way back through this to ensure that we, as I said with an abundance of caution, tick every box here in the State.
Dr Veitch will speak more about a number of premises that these two individuals visited in their lead-up to leaving the state, and I'll make the point so there's no concerns here that they have worked up until the 20th of July at the LGH, but they are no risk to the LGH and in fact tested negative some days later, in fact, just prior to their departure for overseas.
This goes to demonstrate the lengths that we're going to in this State to ensure that we keep people safe, that we have a positive case that’s occurred on the other side of the world, but we're working backwards to ensure that there is absolutely no risk to Tasmanians here.
(more to come)