Southern Tasmania will be thrown into a snap lockdown on Friday because of a COVID-positive traveller who has refused to co-operate with authorities.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the three-day shutdown would begin at 6pm.
It follows an infected traveller who fled hotel quarantine in Hobart earlier in the week, but has refused to outline exactly where he has been.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-positive man that left the hotel quarantine has not been co-operative, leading to inconsistency and a nondisclosure of information,” he said on Friday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, it took two days to verify that he was at Woolworths and there is growing concern now that he has been to several touch points in the community. We can’t continue to wait another two days to find out more about what has been going on.”
In addition, one of the man’s primary close contacts has also since breached hotel quarantine. He was fined and returned to secure accommodation.
“We are at a crucial stage of the vaccination rollout. With a plan to reopen before Christmas and to hit those vaccination rates, we need to ensure that we meet that,” Mr Gutwein said.
So far, 67.6 per cent of Tasmanians over 16 are fully vaccinated, while 82.4 per cent have had a first dose.
The three-day lockdown will include the local government areas of Brighton, Central Highlands, Clarence City, Morgan Spring Bay, the Northern City Council of Hobart, City Council Huon Valley, Southern Midlands and Tasman.
Mr Gutwein said other parts of the state would not be locked down, but he urged Tasmanians to be on the lookout for virus symptoms.
Residents in the lockdown areas will have only five reasons to leave home until at least 6pm Monday. They are:
- Shopping for essential supplies, such as food, beverages, fuel, medicine, within five kilometres of their home;
- Up to two hours a day of personal exercise with their household or one other person, also within five kilometres of home;
- Medical or healthcare appointments, including getting tested or vaccinated;
- Going to work, for essential workers only;
- Going to school or childcare for children of essential workers or those who can’t be cared for at home;
- More information is available from the Tasmanian government’s virus website.
Most businesses, including construction, will shut for the duration of the lockdown. Cafes and restaurants will be restricted to takeaway.
Funerals will be limited to 10 people and weddings to five – but they will only be allowed for compassionate reasons. Visitors to homes are banned, unless it is to support a vulnerable person.
Face masks will also be required whenever people leave home.
Tasmania’s latest COVID scare emerged earlier this week after a 31-year-old man flew to Hobart via Melbourne on Monday night without a valid border entry pass.
He went missing from a Travelodge hotel quarantine facility on Tuesday and was arrested hours later at a home in northern Hobart. His positive virus test was returned after that.
One Friday, a supermarket in Hobart’s northern suburbs was declared an exposure site after the man visited it.
Anyone who visited the Bridgewater Woolworths between 3.15-4.30pm on Tuesday was told to immediately isolate at home.
Authorities had identified 38 primary and 16 casual contacts of the man, prior to the Woolworths store being declared an exposure site.
Seven primary contacts have returned negative tests so far and all are in quarantine.
The man, who has been fined $3000, was driven away from the Travelodge by a friend but it remains a mystery as to how he absconded.
Mr Gutwein said extra CCTV cameras had been installed at the hotel and security tightened.
Monday’s Jetstar flight JQ715 from Melbourne to Hobart had already been declared an exposure site, as have several spots at Hobart Airport that night.
The man was ordered to undergo hotel quarantine as there were no flights available on Monday night to send him back to NSW.