You are aware that the Tasmanian Government has been taking the necessary steps to protect our staff members and the community during novel coronavirus (COVID-19). These proactive steps have included standing up the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC), opening interim respiratory clinics in Launceston and the North West, and implementing a Level 2 Response to COVID-19, which included the establishment of an Emergency Co-ordination Centre within the Department of Health.
The Tasmanian Government is building on these steps today by introducing travel restrictions for all staff1.Travel is restricted for countries that are classified by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as "Do not travel", "Reconsider your travel" and "Exercise a high degree of caution" and where there is a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, as determined by the Tasmanian Director of Public Health. Official travel to these countries will not be approved, unless in exceptional circumstances (and only then on the advice of the Premier and Head of State Service to the portfolio Minister).
The Premier has made this decision to ensure the health and safety of all staff. As at today, the list of restricted countries, as determined by the Director of Public Health, is on the DPAC website. This advice on travel restrictions will be updated daily. You should keep up to date with the Smartraveller website for changes. I will advise when the Premier has removed this restriction.
These restrictions apply to international travel that has been approved but not yet taken.
Domestic travel can still be undertaken, and remains the decision of the delegated authority of each agency. It is important for people to note that these matters are changing rapidly and they should discuss the need for both domestic and international travel with their line manager.
Should a staff member on approved official travel be advised by the Australian Government or the Tasmanian Department of Health that they are required to self-isolate on their return, they are to be paid their normal salary (including regular allowances) for the duration of the absence. If the staff member is able to work from home, this would be encouraged, however if this is not possible the staff member will be paid without the need to apply for any leave regardless.
Should a staff member be infected by COVID-19 when undertaking permitted official travel to locations outside the restricted countries, the staff member will be entitled to use sick leave (personal leave) for the period they are unwell.
Should a staff member on approved official travel be unable to return to Australia due to travel bans (as advised by DFAT), they will be paid their normal salary (including regular allowances) for the duration of the absence. Accommodation and travel-related expenses will continue to be met by the relevant Agency.·
While the Tasmanian Government is unable to restrict private travel, it is recommended you check the Smartraveller website prior to travel to stay up to date with travel information. If you choose to travel to locations that are classified by DFAT as "do not travel", "reconsider your need to travel" or "exercise a high degree of caution" due to COVID-19 as determined by the Director of Public Health, you must follow national and state self-isolation requirements on your return.
1 For the purpose of this document, "staff'' includes employees, Heads of Agencies, TSS officers, Ministers and Ministerial staff
Staff members should be aware that depending on circumstances at the time, these requirements may include the need to undertake 14 days of self-quarantine or for persons who work in a specialised occupation such as Health or Education not attending work (or being required to work under particular conditions) for 14 days after leaving specified countries.
Should a staff member choose to travel for private reasons to a "do not travel", ''reconsider your need to travel" or "exercise a high degree of caution" location associated with COVID-19, which was reasonably known prior to travel, and the staff member is required to self-isolate on return and arrangements cannot be made to safely work from home, the employee will be required to utilise their existing leave entitlements (such as recreation leave or long service leave) or take leave without pay during the isolation period.
If anyone is concerned or has symptoms, they should contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. A person who is aware of having a notifiable disease must take all reasonable measures to prevent transmission and not knowingly or recklessly place others at risk, and there are significant penalties that can be applied. The Director of Public Health has extensive powers in relation to people known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-I9 virus, which has been declared a notifiable disease.
I encourage you to refer to the Tasmanian Department of Health's website.
Further information is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet will provide further frequently asked questions in relation to COVID-19 next week and given this situation is rapidly changing, the travel restriction will be reviewed regvlarly and I will provide updates.