From midnight tonight Tasmanians are ordered to stay at home.
Premier Gutwein announced the order this morning. He said there will be enforcement and penalties will be in place.
The measures came as a woman in her 80s died in the north-west, becoming Tasmania’s first coronavirus victim.
“Stand with me and do all that we possibly can,” he said. “Staying home will save lives. These are unprecedented times. We must do all that we can to keep our families safe, to keep Tasmanians safe.”
A statement will be released later today with full details of the new rules.
Acceptable reasons for leaving the primary place of residence will be:
- shopping for essential supplies or medicine
- compassionate care (assisting a relative, for example)
- work or school, if you are unable to work or study from home
The order will be in place for four weeks and will be reviewed during that time.
Any encounters outside the family group, ‘public gatherings’ can only be a maximum of two people. Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms should be considered closed.
“We need to take community responsibility,” he urged. “I encourage all Tasmanians to join with us and beat this thing.”
“The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to limit human-to-human contact.”
He said every decision made to date had been in order to ‘flatten the curve’ of the coronavirus epidemic. “These are tough rules, I know that. It’s a tough topic.”
He said he had asked the department to look at on-the-spot fines for people breaking the order, probably in the range of $750-$1000. Currently the available penalties are a maximum fine of $16,800 and/or six months in prisons.
People breaking the order will be arrested, charged and summonsed.
He called on Tasmanians to abide by the rules.
He said that other places around the world that were struggling to cope with COVID-19 had not taken steps early enough.
The Premier said he understood there were national discussions happening around childcare and that there may be advice issued this week.
He urged people over 70 to self-isolate for their own protection. He said help was available for people who needed it.
Premier Gutwein encouraged people to keep interacting socially by phone and video.
The Greens welcomed the restrictions, saying that limiting people’s social movements outside their homes to all but essential activity is necessary to save lives.
“The evidence from overseas has shown that going hard, early in the disease epidemic is the only way to slow the rate of coronavirus infections – and ultimately save as many lives as possible,” said Greens Health spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff.
She said there are still questions about how the strict restrictions announced by the Premier on physical distancing will be applied in certain sectors, such as construction and retail.
Woodruff, a qualified epidemiologist, also supported general practitioners who have been calling for additional testing kits to enable them to determine if patients have coronavirus infection. “Despite relaxation of the federal guidelines on testing, this doesn’t seem to be happening enough in Tasmania.”
Schools and workplaces
Many students are now learning from home, although schools remain open for children of parents who are working.
Public servants, other than those required in frontline services, are being encouraged and supported to work from home.
Private sector employees should discuss with their boss how to work from home. If at a workplace, all recommended hygiene and social distancing measures must be adhered to strictly.
People currently at a shack or holiday house can stay there, or return. They should not plan to move between places after the order comes into effect.
“You cannot do it,” said the Premier. You simply cannot do it. You will need to make a choice.”
He clarified that people currently self-isolating at a shack can continue there.
One of the problems, he said, is that coastal and remote communities are home to many retired and elderly people who are vulnerable to coronavirus.
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