News Coronavirus Tasmania reports four new cases, 14 active
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Tasmania reports four new cases, 14 active

Tas vaccine mandate
Tasmania posted 466 new COVID-19 cases but premier Peter Gutwein says most have only mild symptoms. Photo: AAP
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Tasmania has reported four new coronavirus cases as the state’s health department boosts testing capacity amid reports of lengthy waits.

The infections, recorded in the 24 hours to 8 pm on Monday, bring the island’s number of active cases to 14.

Tasmania was virus-free when it reopened borders to fully vaccinated travellers on December 15 and has recorded at least a case a day since.

None of the active cases is in a hospital. They are either being managed at home or in a community facility.

The state’s health department on Tuesday opened a new testing facility in Launceston in the north.

Many people have told local radio of waits of several hours past booking times.

A mask mandate for indoor venues, plus public transport and ride-sharing, was implemented at 12.01 am on Tuesday after being flagged on Sunday.

The state’s peak hospitality body says many restaurants and pubs are now seeing group bookings being cancelled, after experiencing a “surge” following the reopening.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association CEO Steve Old said plenty of people within the industry were extremely frustrated about the mask mandate.

“We understand the need to remain as safe and vigilant as possible with this virus again starting to circulate in the community,” he said.

“Obviously, the last thing we want to see is venues plunged back into turmoil due to lockdowns or reductions in density limits.

“But there was a reason Tasmanians were encouraged to get double ‘vaxxed’ before the borders opened.”

More than 90 per cent of Tasmanians aged over 12 are fully vaccinated.

Mr Old said the state government had indicated getting vaccinated would allow people to live as normal as possible.

“There was already a lack of consistency around the rules on stand-up drinking, and if masks now need to be worn inside venues there should be no need to have any other restrictions in place,” he said.

He said exemptions should be granted to certain workers at venues, particularly kitchen staff as they don’t interact with patrons.

“The kitchen is already an extremely hot environment and there are some massive health and safety issues waiting to happen if chefs are forced to wear masks working long hours in summer.”

Premier Peter Gutwein has said the mask rules, which have not been routinely implemented in Tasmania due to its low case numbers, were an important safeguard.

– AAP