Preventative measures

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Kingborough residents returning to Tasmania from mainland Australia or overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after Premier of Tasmania, the Honourable Peter Gutwein MP, introduced a state of emergency on Thursday March 19.

“This is a tough, but necessary decision to flatten the curve, putting Tasmanians’ health and wellbeing first,” said Premier Gutwein.

“The quarantine period will not apply to essential travellers, such as health care workers, emergency workers, defence personnel, air and ship crew, specialists, and essential freight personnel (truck drivers/spirit freight) and there will be stringent guidelines to manage this.”

Breaching the mandatory quarantine process will incur a penalty of up to $16,800 and possible six months of jail time.

The move to close the state’s borders came ahead of similar decisions by Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory announced on Sunday, March 22.

Victoria and New South Wales announced a shutdown of non-essential services on the same day to take effect on Tuesday, March 24.

Mayor of Kingborough, Cr Dean Winter has reassured Kingborough that council is still operating and is adapting to the challenging situation the coronavirus pandemic presents

"This week, I called a meeting with mayors of Hobart, Glenorchy and Clarence to discuss a unified response to the situation,” Mayor Winter said.

“From that meeting, we have agreed to take a number of interim support measures to our respective councils which will help us deal with the immediate needs of our communities.”

Among the measures being considered are support for local businesses and community groups, collaborating with other levels of government and hardship policies such as rent relief and refunds of fees and charges.

Mayor Winter stated that council will do their best to continue to provide essential services to the community and encouraged the public to limit face to face contact.

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"The health and safety of our community and staff is our number one priority as we plan and respond to the rapidly changing circumstances,” Mayor Winter continued.

"We are taking precautions to make sure we are minimising the spread of infection and are providing a safe environment for our customers and staff.”

Precautions including distributing council staff across multiple venues to practice social distancing and asking the public not to attend council meetings in person.

"We will be streaming our council meetings online through council's facebook page,” Mayor Winter said.

“Anyone can still continue to submit questions on notice through the normal channels.

“The coronavirus will have a significant impact on us and we will keep the community informed every step of the way.

"I encourage people to consider your movements, make sure you are following the advice from the Departments of Health and look after yourselves, family and friends.

"Please do not take your advice from unverified sources on social media,” urged Mayor Winter.

“Now, more than ever, the community connection we value here in Tasmania is so important."

Along with the assurances from local council, Premier Gutwein has reassured Tasmanians that freight will continue to come in and out of the state, giving access to essential supplies, with well-stocked warehouses keeping supermarket shelves re-supplied over the coming days and weeks.

Kingborough residents are encouraged to shop sensibly with the knowledge that panic buying and hoarding are not required.

Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said supermarket staff had been abused by people looking to strip shelves of essential items or those frustrated when items weren’t available.

“It’s unfair and it’s unnecessary,” said Ms Westacott in a radio interview with ABC.

“There’s no supply problem here; there’s a selfishness problem.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also issued a blunt message to hoarders.

“Stop it,” said Prime Minister Morrison.

“It’s not sensible, it’s not helpful and I’ve got to say, it’s been one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.

“That is not who we are as a people.”

Addressing the nation on Sunday, the Prime Minster announced the first stage of a nationwide shutdown in response to the broader public’s disregard for social distancing.

Stage one of the shutdown came into effect at 12 noon on Monday, March 23 and saw the closure of pubs, clubs, licensed venues within hotels, gyms, indoor sporting venues, churches and other places of worship, entertainment venues, cinemas and casinos.

Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to trade but restricted to takeaway only options

It was confirmed after the meeting of the National Cabinet on Sunday, March 22 that although Victorian school holidays would begin early, there were no plans about a nation-wide closure of schools.

The government is reviewing the information on school attendance daily and taking advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

 “The Tasmanian Government also notes that the current AHPPC advice regarding schools is that pre-emptive closures are not proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time,” said Premier Gutwein.

At the time of printing, there were 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tasmania, all directly linked to people who had been overseas.

There had been no cases of community transmission in Tasmania.

Those in close contact with a confirmed case of the virus had been contacted by the relevant authorities and required to self-isolate.

“I encourage anyone who may be concerned about COVID-19 because of recent travel or contact with a confirmed case to refer to the self-assessment tools on the Department of Health’s website, call the hotline or discuss their circumstance with their GP,” said Premier Gutwein.

The Premier also confirmed the seriousness of adhering to self-isolation in response to reports of some people in Tasmania not complying.

“It is important that people follow the rules,” Premier Gutwein stated.

“If you’ve been asked to self-isolate, to go into quarantine, you must do that.

“It does not mean you can go to the shops and buy a carton of milk.

“It does not mean you can go to church.”

The Premier also urged all Tasmanians to practice social distancing, as advised by the Federal Government, in particular:

  • Don’t go out in public when you’re sick
  • Avoid medical settings unless necessary
  • Give people 1.5 metres of space
  • Wave instead of shaking hands, hugging or kissing
  • Clean your hands often and thoroughly
  • Minimize groups over 10
  • Encourage the use of technology for meetings
  • Clean spaces frequently

“In Tasmania we are doing a good job, but we need to do a better job,’’ Premier Gutwein said.