Pandemic protection: Tasmania shuts borders

 

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has announced the "toughest border measures in the country" and declared a state of emergency.

The emergency declaration means the state's Police Commissioner, Darren Hine, "will take operational control", Mr Gutwein told reporters this morning.

From midnight on Friday, only "essential travellers" will be allowed into Tasmania without going into quarantine. "Any non-essential traveller will be required to go into a period of 14 days of quarantine," Mr Gutwein said.

"Importantly, these new measures will carry penalties. I want to make it very clear. We expect people to abide by the law. There can be no excuse for not self-quarantining, for not abiding by the rules."

People who breach the new laws face fines of up to $16,800 or up to six months in prison.

"We will monitor and keep in touch with people, but should somebody break the law, we will ensure that the full weight (of the law is) brought to bear," Mr Gutwein said.

Essential travellers are defined as "those that are important to our health effort, or to an emergency situation, or those that keep our trade links running".

Ships including the TT-Line will continue to run.

"I want to be clear to all Tasmanians - we are not going to shut the borders to those supplies that we need," Mr Gutwein said.

"We know that for some it will create disruption, but our aim is to ensure that we protect the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians, and we would ask people to work with us as we implement these measures, and as they are managed over coming weeks."

Tasmania currently has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19.