All non-essential travellers arriving in Tasmania will have to go into a fortnight’s quarantine under coronavirus border measures dubbed the toughest in the country.
Premier Peter Gutwein announced the changes on Thursday morning, declaring a state of emergency in the island state.
They will apply from midnight on Friday to all “non-essential” travellers into the state.
Health care workers, emergency workers, defence personnel, air and ship crew, specialists, and essential freight personnel will be excluded from the quarantine measures.
“We know that for some it will create disruption, but our aim is to ensure that we protect the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians,” Mr Gutwein said.
All passengers will be screened on arrival and must demonstrate they meet the essential traveller criteria. Everyone arriving in the state is already being asked to fill out a special card so the government can keep track of them.
People in quarantine will be monitored to ensure they comply. Anyone who breaches the new laws faces a fine of up to $16,800.
The measure includes Tasmanians who are returning home.
“We expect people to abide by the law. There can be no excuse for not self-quarantining, for not abiding by the rules,” Mr Gutwein said.
“Tasmanians expect their government to take the necessary steps … Today we take that next step to ensure that we provide the toughest border measures in the country.”
Mr Gutwein said he “made no apologies” for the new restrictions.
“I want to be clear to all Tasmanians, we are not going to shut the borders to those supplies that we need,” he said.
“Our ships will continue to run, the TT Line [operator of the Spirit of Tasmania between Melbourne and Devonport], will have, I expect, more opportunity to carry more freight into the state as a result of the fact that there will be, I expect, less people travelling.”
He said the restriction might not automatically apply for people travelling for medical treatment.
Three new virus cases were confirmed in Tasmania on Wednesday night. The state has 10 COVID-19 cases, but – as yet – no evidence of local transmission.
Mr Gutwein also flagged moves to treat Tasmanian coronavirus patients in hotels.
“Obviously, there are a lot of vacant hotel rooms at the moment,” he said.
“We are engaged with the hotel section to ensure that we have adequate accommodation should we require it.”