The island state of Tasmania has effectively closed its borders to the rest of Australia in one of the country’s most dramatic measures yet to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced the “toughest border measures in the country” on Thursday while declaring a state of emergency, with all “non-essential” travellers required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival from midnight Friday.
Essential travellers are those deemed necessary to keep the state’s health system and trade running. Arrivals who subsequently break their self-isolation requirements are liable to penalties of up to AU$16,800 or six months in jail.
“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,” Gutwein said.
“Our ships will continue to run, the TT Line will have, I expect, more opportunity to carry more freight into the state as a result of the fact that there will be, I expect, less people travelling.”
Tasmania is home to Australia’s first casino, Wrest Point in Hobart, which opened in 1973 and is more closely linked with the Macau gaming industry than might be expected.
A number of those in senior management positions in Macau’s casinos are Australian – a result of Australia’s proximity and Melco’s former connection with Crown Resorts – and many of those either began their careers or spent time working at Wrest Point before moving to the likes of Crown Melbourne or The Star in Sydney.
Australia is in the midst of its own coronavirus crisis, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing Thursday that he was closing the country’s borders to anyone who is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, effective as of Friday.