Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
We have had high daily COVID 19 case numbers, 700 to 1000 for more than a week. More than 51 000 Tasmanians have already been infected, including upwards of 2000 young people infected. Schools have been reeling under constant outbreaks. Tasmania is in the middle of rampant COVID-19 transmission, but last Friday you announced the end of universal mask wearing in retail settings.
Your whole COVID-19 Public Health response now relies on having a population fully vaccinated. However, no children under 12 are fully protected with the minimum two doses, and one in three Tasmanians over 16 have not had a booster. Universal mask wearing is a baseline protection during an airborne virus epidemic. You have chosen to remove this requirement. Will you release the unredacted advice from the director of Public Health that you used to make your decision?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for that question. Unlike other premiers in other jurisdictions, I have not distanced myself, nor the Government, from the advice we have received from the director of Public Health. In other jurisdictions, as you would be aware, they have legislated to ensure that the Premier can make decisions without taking into account Public Health advice.
Every step of the way, we have acted on Public Health advice. On Friday when we stood up and made this announcement, Public Health was with us and provided support and advice on the day. The Public Health advice is very clear, that we could gradually look to remove mask wearing.
We have started with the lowest risk settings in retail. We have flagged that this Friday, subject to Public Health advice, we may take another step which would include cafes, restaurants and possibly offices. I do not need to release Public Health advice because the acting director of Public Health, or the deputy director, Mr McKeown, in Dr Veitch's absence, who was not with us on Friday, provided that advice directly at the press conference, as we have done every step of the way. That differentiates the way that Tasmania, and I as Premier, have managed our way through the pandemic. Other premiers have dislocated themselves from public health. We have, every step of the way, been with Public Health, and through all of these decisions, Public Health has been there with us to support and provide advice and answer questions.
Where the member wants to go, all I can presume is, as they did disgracefully over the late December and January period, they want to attack Public Health. The deputy director of Public Health is on the record last Friday regarding the steps we are taking. I refer the member to that tape.