Tasmania to ease border restrictions with “low-risk COVID states”

Tasmania’s Premier has confirmed plans to ease border restrictions with “low-risk COVID states” from 26 October.

The further easing of border restrictions will see Tasmania move to implement Step 2 of its three-step plan announced two weeks ago.

Low-risk jurisdictions are determined by the state’s public health authority based on a number of factors, including the period of time they have gone with low or no numbers of cases, and the lack of community transmission.

At this stage, low-risk states include South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, the ACT and possibly NSW, according to Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein.

“I want to be clear that if at any time the situation changes in these states and the advice is that the risk is too high, then I won’t hesitate to change this decision,” Premier Gutwein said in a statement on Friday.

“We will review the situation in NSW over the next week and border restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future with Victoria until we are satisfied that the risk has reduced to a lower level.

“Again, I’d like to thank Tasmanians for continuing to do the right thing and continuing to follow the rules to ensure we protect our people, our health system, our economy and the jobs it supports.”

Premier Gutwein said he intends to provide Tasmanians with an update on the measures being undertaken by the government to prepare the state for the reopening of its borders next week.

Travel Weekly understands that Virgin Australia will increase some services to Tasmania following the state’s easing of border restrictions with Queensland.

From Monday 19 October, the airline will increase flights between Brisbane and Hobart from twice weekly to three times per week.

Virgin is expected to increase its existing services between Sydney and Hobart, as well as Sydney and Launceston, on the basis that NSW becomes a low-risk state to Tasmania in coming weeks.

The airline will also review opportunities to introduce new city pairs and connections, and is working with Tourism Tasmania on range of marketing initiatives to support the state government’s latest announcement.

“Our recovery from this pandemic is heavily reliant on the re-establishment of domestic connectivity, and as border restrictions ease, we’ve seen first-hand how Australians want to reconnect with loved ones and be able to get out and explore all that this country has to offer,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said.

“Increased services between Brisbane and Hobart is great news for local tourism operators and businesses, who this summer will benefit from having more travellers visiting these states.

“We’ll continue to review customer demand and our ability to add more city pairs and frequencies.”

Featured image source: iStock/omersukrugoksu