Peter Gutwein says Tasmania will no longer reopen its border to mainland Australia on July 24. Image by Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Tasmania delays border reopening by a week

2020-07-11 16:49:59

Tasmania has delayed its planned border reopening over fears the coronavirus outbreak in Victoria could spread to other states. 

The island was expected to welcome visitors from mainland Australia on July 24, but has now pushed the date back by at least a week.

“We will use these next couple of weeks to gain a full understanding of what the outbreak in Victoria means for the rest of country,” Premier Peter Gutwein said on Friday.

Mr Gutwein raised concerns about the virus spreading from Victoria to other states despite hard border closures.

“I hope, as I’m sure most Australians do, that Victoria will get on top of it,” he said.

“But we’re in the fortunate position in Tasmania of being one of the safest places in the country.

“We need to ensure we maintain that position as we move forward.”

Mr Gutwein earlier this week announced the planned July 24 reopening wouldn’t include Victoria, which on Friday confirmed 288 new COVID-19 cases, a record daily increase.

Tasmania has implemented a hard border with Victoria, declaring people arriving from the mainland state without a special permit will be turned back.

State Public Health Director Mark Veitch said three weeks were needed to better assess the country’s virus situation. 

“We’ve heard there have been a number of cases exported to the ACT and NSW, and that’s a reasonable cause for concern,” he said. 

Mr Gutwein is planning to speak to tourism leaders next week about further support measures. 

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania head Luke Martin said he understood the premier’s decision and urged people to holiday locally. 

However, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry wanted social restrictions in the state eased further. 

Tasmania, which is free of COVID-19 and last recorded a case more than 50 days ago, is at stage three of restrictions. 

“While we understand the reasons for the decision, this will result in more job losses and more business closures,” TCCI chief executive Michael Bailey said. 

Mr Gutwein is expected to give a border update on July 24.