As you know the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is rapidly evolving internationally, nationally and locally. I am committed to making every effort in keeping you up to date as information comes to hand on the status of the situation, and associated measures are being implemented: measures for your own health and safety and that of our wider community.
Locally, Tasmania is currently in a containment phase with seven confirmed cases and no evidence of community transmission. I can assure you the Department of Health with support from the State Emergency Management Committee are working tirelessly in preparing for the implementation of further measures if the current situation changes.
Nationally, The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) is meeting daily and advising our national leaders, therefore it is highly likely things will continue to change at a fast pace.
The Premier delivered a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on Tuesday, 17 March (see attachment) and there are some key points I would like to highlight:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has raised the level of international travel advice to Level 4, which is: do not travel to any other country. Therefore, effective immediately, no official overseas travel for Tasmanian State Service employees will be approved, unless there are exceptional circumstances and recommended by the Premier for approval of the relevant Minister. Any prior approvals are revoked.
By national agreement there is a mandatory 14 day isolation period for anyone who has come to Australia from an international destination as of midnight on I 6 March 2020. Travellers transiting through a mainland Australian city to Tasmania will be required to self-isolate in Tasmania.
Any other non-essential work-related or personal domestic travel should be avoided.
Non-essential outdoor gatherings of over 500 people should not go ahead. In a given occupied space, there must be no more than one person per four square metres of ground space. In addition, any non-essential indoor gatherings of over I 00 should not go ahead.
This does not apply to schools and universities who are implementing their own social distancing practices.
The advice of the AHPPC is that school closures should not be undertaken at this time, because closures are not considered to be effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 on the health of otherwise healthy children has been minimal to date.
I understand there may be some uncertainty around work arrangements during this unprecedented time. If you have not already, I encourage you to refer to the State Service Management Office's website regarding the current work arrangements for Tasmanian State Service Employees: http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/ssmo/coronavirus
Your manager should be the contact in relation to what specific arrangements will be in place in your workplace.
I assure you each agency is working on business continuity plans and ensuring their pandemic plans are up to date. We are progressively taking steps towards a coordinated approach to implementing social distancing measures in the work place. More information on this will be provided however, this includes being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of this information please speak to your immediate supervisor. The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly and we recommend you keep up to date by visiting the Tasmanian Department of Health's website at http://www.health.tas.gov.au/coronavirus.
As further information comes to hand I will reach out to you again, in the meantime please continue to take the simple steps to protect yourself and others as per the attached 'protecting yourself from coronavirus' fact sheet.
I thank you all for the outstanding work that is being done by all of those involved in the COVID-19 response and those who are filling in the gaps to ensure our other critical work continues.