Tasmania’s borders will remain closed until at least December 1, the Premier has announced.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Peter Gutwein said restrictions would stay in place until at least December “to allow sufficient time for the COVID-19 situation in Victoria and the threat posed to other states to be clearly controlled”.
Mr Gutwein said the decision was based on advice from the state’s Public Health service, Health Department and the State Control Centre.
“This will enable our community and our businesses to understand and prepare for border relaxations, and to ensure appropriate planning and risk mitigation processes are in place,” he said.
“It will also give us time to build the community’s trust in our border measures to protect Tasmania from areas in the rest of the country that pose a high risk, while allowing travel to and from areas that pose a very low risk.”
The state will also change its requirements for essential travellers – people who can enter the state without going into quarantine.
“The Department of State Growth will now also be involved in the assessment process, along with DPIPWE [Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment] and the State Control team to provide another layer of review in the assessment process before the State Controller makes the final decision,” Mr Gutwein said.
“To ensure that the public is kept informed we will also make publicly available statistical and regional information regarding essential traveller exemptions granted to enter Tasmania, on a weekly basis, taking into account people’s individual privacy.”
‘Make yourself at home’ travel vouchers offered to Tasmanians
Mr Gutwein said with the extension of border restrictions, it was necessary to give more support to the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sector.
The Government will make available $7.5 million in grants to Tasmanians to encourage them to holiday at home.
The “Make yourself at home” travel vouchers will be offered in September, October and November for Tasmanians who travel outside of their municipality, to stay midweek in accommodation to enjoy a tourism experience, or visit an attraction any day of the week.
“The support will provide up to $100 towards the cost of a room in commercial accommodation, or up to $50 per booking to participate in a tourism experience whether that be a cruise, a walk or entry to an attraction such as the Port Arthur Historic Site or the Tahune Airwalk.
“We also want our local businesses to conduct their meetings or team building workshops away from their base in other parts of the state and they will be able to access this support as well to hold mini conferences and meetings,” he said.
Mr Gutwein said Tasmania was ready and well prepared to respond to any COVID-19 cases and prevent further spread in the community.
“At the moment the risk posed to Tasmania by the situation in Victoria is considerable,” he said.
“There are many Tasmanian businesses, which have had to close their doors, who are only just returning to reasonable levels of trade, and many others who are still doing it very tough.
“But we must avoid a situation like Victoria or NSW, as we would have to impose serious restrictions once again. We would see shrinking business confidence and the jobs regained, lost once more.
“It is important to remember that while the threat remains, we will get further cases in Tasmania and continuing our restrictions will help stop the spread and keep us safe.”