The state government will bring forward further easing of restrictions from noon Friday 26 June.

“Tasmanians are to be congratulated on their continued efforts to keep one another safe, including maintaining high testing numbers to ensure we know if there is detection of the virus in the community,” said Premier Peter Gutwein.

The looser COVID-19 restrictions are outlined as follows:

  • gathering sizes will increase to a maximum of 500 (outdoor) and 250 (per undivided indoor space) across all premises. These limits include all people (including staff, spectators, volunteers);
  • the maximum density limit will move from 4sqm to 2sqm. This will not apply to some settings as is currently the case (eg. transport and health facilities);
  • saunas, spa baths, flotation tanks and bath houses may reopen;
  • garage sales, car boot sales and second-hand goods sales can resume;
  • stadiums can reopen;
  • strip clubs and provision of services to a person by a sex worker, within the meaning of the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 can resume;
  • casinos and gaming venues can reopen;
  • carkets and food vans at markets can resume;
  • food courts (now including dine in);
  • night clubs can reopen;
  • pools (indoor and outdoor) – maximum density limit, with a cap of 250 persons per single undivided space, including athletes and support staff. Level C of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport applies;
  • outdoor community sport – maximum density limit, with a cap of 500 persons outdoors and 250 persons per single undivided space where indoor facilities also are in place, including athletes and support staff. Sporting activities can be undertaken based on Level C of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport. This means:
    • a return to full contact training
    • return to full competition sport (contact and non-contact)
    • use of change rooms and other shared facilities permitted but not encouraged
    • for larger team sports, consider maintaining some small group separation at training
    • non-essential social gatherings should be limited
  • indoor sport and recreation – maximum density limit, with a cap of 250 persons per single undivided space, including athletes and support staff. Sporting activities can be undertaken based on Level C of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport. This means:
    • a return to full contact training
    • return to full competition sport (contact and non-contact)
    • use of change rooms and other shared facilities permitted but not encouraged
    • for larger team sports, consider maintaining some small group separation at training
    • non-essential social gatherings should be limited
  • sporting facilities, including gyms, must continue to have a staff member or other authorised person on the premises while open.

The only dampener on the fun is that patrons must be seated in premises where alcohol is sold, such as pubs, bars and nightclubs, meaning activities that are not seated (eg pool, dancing) are not permitted.

The recommendation remains to practice 1.5m physical distancing where possible.

The Premier indicated that further consideration will be given to premises that can seat over 1000 people following national cabinet on Friday.

“I have always said that when it comes to easing restrictions, we will take a responsible and sensible approach, to avoid a situation where we let our guard down too soon and compromise all the good work we have achieved in Tasmania,” said the Premier.

He said the government will continue to engage with public health experts to manage the coronavirus situation in the state. Tasmania has now passed 39 days without a new case of coronavirus. The total remains at 226 known cases from 45,440 tests, with 213 recoveries and 13 deaths. Testing continues at a rate of approximately 600 per day.

“While the virus is not eradicated, nor is there a vaccine, we have in place our four safeguards, which continue to be our best defence against the virus, and I ask Tasmanians not to become complacent,” the Premier warned.

The Tasmanian Small Business Council described the relaxation of the 4 square metre rule as a step in the right direction. “For the vast majority of small business it will mean that they will be able to operate at close to normal capacity, staff will be able to be better engaged and many casuals who were laid off because of the restrictions may well be rehired,” said Executive Officer Robert Mallett. “A win for all.”

Meanwhile  the government decided to postpone a wage increase for senior public servants, which would normally be considered at this time of the year, until the Budget period later this year in November.

Economic and Business Conditions

Labor welcomed the announcement today eased patron restrictions for businesses as a ‘common sense decision’ in response to calls from across the community. Shadow Minister for Small Business Anita Dow said the change will effectively double the number of patrons businesses can have on their premises.

“This decision couldn’t come soon enough for businesses,” she said. “It means they will be more confident to open their doors, and they will be better able to get Tasmanians back into jobs.”

“Despite more than a month of no new cases, Peter Gutwein has been slow to respond to calls to ease restrictions, even after more than 20,000 people have lost their jobs.”

Dow said the importance of measures to support businesses has been emphasised by data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The national data shows 30 % of small businesses report they do not have enough cash reserves to support operations under current conditions for more than three months, and eight % say they have less than a month’s cash reserves.

“For businesses in the accommodation and food services category, this figure is even higher,” Dow noted.

Dow said Labor will continue to advocate for measures that support business recovery and job creation, while placing the utmost priority on public health and safety.

Electricity issue

Shadow Energy Minister, David O’Byrne, criticised the Liberals’ for “ignorance of the current pressures faced by businesses.”

“Labor has heard from a small business who has not been eligible for government power bill support because they have been tenants of a multi-tenanted property,” he said.

He explained that the business’ electricity is metered internally, and the building owner invoices them their share of energy, yet the government has failed to provide them, or the building owner, with the power bill waiver they are eligible for as a small business.

“This business pleaded with Guy Barnett for assistance and yet eight weeks have passed and they have still not heard a single word from the Minister.,” O’Byrne said. “This is yet another stunning display of cold disregard for the situation businesses find themselves in as they continued to run freezers and cool rooms and other equipment in the hope they could bounce back once restrictions were lifted.

He called on the Premier to provide power relief to businesses that have “clearly been impacted by the COVID-19 related restrictions and are desperate for assistance.”