Tasmania has delivered some fab news for Australia’s domestic tourism sector, with the island state set to loosen its border restrictions next month.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced on Friday that the state intends to create “safe travel bubbles” with South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia from 7 August.
Gutwein said the two-week timeframe will allow for additional border safety measures to be put in place at Tasmania’s airports and seaports, which will include a mandatory health check for every passenger, including temperature checking of all passenger arrivals.
“The ‘Good to Go’ app will also need to be filled out accurately in terms of where the passenger may have been in the past 14 days, and there will be fines of up to $16,800 or up to six months jail for those who provide incorrect information,” the state’s Premier added.
“Anyone that is identified as being unwell or having symptoms will be required to take a mandatory test, which will be conducted at the airport. Refusal to have a test will result in mandatory hotel quarantine or a directive to return home on the next flight.
“TT Line will continue to operate under their current arrangements, and passengers will not be carried if they don’t have a Tasmanian address or are an essential traveller, or are visitors travelling from WA, SA or the Northern Territory.”
In addition, Tasmania will introduce mandatory testing from 31 July for essential workers at its airports and seaports that have been through a designated hot spot in NSW or are from anywhere in Victoria.
Gutwein said he will provide an update on 7 August on possible timeframes and dates to relax restrictions with Queensland, NSW and the ACT based on public health advice and the situation in those states and territories.
“However, to be clear, we will not open to them before the 14th of August,” he said.
“In terms of relaxing border restrictions with other states, due to the situation in Victoria, we will need to take a longer-term view on any relaxations and we will continue to monitor the situation on a weekly basis.”
From this Friday, those required to quarantine at a hotel in Tasmania will do so at their own expense, except in cases of extreme hardship.
“This means anyone coming into Tasmania from 31 July will no longer have the state pay their hotel expenses, but will be charged $2,800 per person for the 14 days, or if they’re a family, a family rate which is being determined,” Gutwein said.
“This will apply to any travellers coming in from interstate via air, or for those on the Spirit of Tasmania where the vessel departed Melbourne after 12.01am on 31 July.”
Exemptions can be requested by Tasmanians who may have to travel interstate to receive medical care or for compassionate reasons, and the Premier said these will be dealt with by the State Controller on a case-by-case basis.
“Creating safe travel bubbles with states who are in as good a place as Tasmania will no doubt be welcome news as a safe first step for our tourism and hospitality sector,” he said.
“However, I will not put Tasmanians at risk, and we will continue to make decisions that are safe, sensible and based on advice from public health experts at all times.”
And while Tasmania is loosening its border restrictions, South Australia is tightening its rules as the second coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring Victoria continues to grow.
From Wednesday, South Australian residents will no longer be able to return to the state from Victoria, unless they are deemed essential travellers.
Meanwhile, the Queensland government is urging cross-border commuters to update their border declaration passes following the announcement of a new COVID-19 hotspot in NSW from today.
Anyone who has been in the local government area of Fairfield in the past 14 days will not be able to enter Queensland, according to the state government’s latest border update.
The NSW local government areas of Liverpool or Campbelltown, as well as the whole state of Victoria, remain active COVID-19 hotspots.
Featured image source: iStock/timstarkey