Jenny Gale, Head of the State Service, message to all staff

COVID-19 Update (30 Mar 2020)

To: All Tasmanian State Servants

Dear colleagues

COVID-19 Update

As you may be aware, National Cabinet met last night and considered further measures to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. The Prime Minister announced the measures last night which our Premier confirmed this morning. The new measures are:

  • Non-essential public gatherings have been reduced from the previous cap of ten people and are now limited to two people (unless it is those who are living in your household).
  • There will be a six-month moratorium on evictions from commercial and residential rental properties where tenants cannot meet their payments due to financial stress.
  • Public playgrounds, outside gyms and skate parks will be closed from tomorrow.
  • Group boot camps can no longer proceed, however, one-on-one personal training sessions are allowed.

Additionally, the strong advice of National Cabinet is that people aged 70 and older should stay home and self-isolate for their own protection. This also applies to people aged 60 and older with chronic illnesses and Indigenous people aged over 50.

The key message is that people should stay home unless:

  • they are shopping for essentials
  • for medical care or compassionate needs
  • they are exercising within the new restrictions
  • for work and education if they cannot work or learn remotely.

Currently two new Directions are being drafted under the Public Health Act relating to the limit on non-essential public gatherings and travel outside of the home that will come into effect at midnight tonight.

State Servants perform essential functions and are critical to supporting essential government and community services. As a result of the latest measures announced by the Premier, and to ensure that we are able to support the much tighter limits on social distancing, State Servants who are not required in our frontline or essential services will be encouraged to work from home, if they are able to do so and where approved by the Head of Agency through each agency’s working from home policy.

Whether employees are able to work from home will depend on the nature of the work they do, and this may change as we continue to mobilise our staff across the state service to effectively increase our response to COVID-19. For operational reasons some employees will need to come to work and it is important to assure staff that the workplace is still safe for those employees who are unable to work from home. A range of flexible work arrangements that allow distancing may be available, such as using hub spaces, meeting rooms or breakout spaces where they exist. There may also be alternative locations available for some staff to work from where spaces allow for that to occur.

Having many public servants working from home will put an increased load on the Government Network and we cannot be in a position where we are putting critical functions at risk because of load on our infrastructure before it is ready. As working from home arrangements are approved, staff must:

  • Only connect back into the Government network via a VPN if and when you need to. When you do not need the Government Network, disconnect from it.
  • Use teleconference instead of videoconferencing - where possible. Further guidance will be provided as we test the load this creates.
  • Seriously perform responsibilities in terms of:
    • cybersecurity, for example being mindful of clicking on suspicious links;
    • applying the same privacy principles in dealing with personal information as if you are in the workplace; and
    • ensure no one else at home is able to access your Government device.

We will be issuing Staying Cyber Safe and Government Network Capacity working from home guidelines to agencies later today and it will be important that all employees are cognisant of their responsibilities and practice these effectively.

For further information and if you have any immediate questions, please contact your manager.

Jenny Gale Signature block
Jenny Gale
Head of the State Service
Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet
30 Mar 2020