Hobart Happenings December 2021
by Stephanie Williams
New kids on the block, Peppina restaurant and Mary Mary cocktail bar (2b Salamanca Pl, Hobart) are throwing open their very glamorous doors on 9 December at The Tasman. With food director Massimo Mele and head chef Glenn Byrnes leading the team, think Italian trattoria style dining, an abundance of Tasmanian produce and bespoke liquor choices anchoring the Parliament Square precinct. The newest addition to Midtown is taking shape as Simple Cider (189 Elizabeth Street, Hobart), it’s primarily a production space, but also an event and workshop space, a cellar door and providore. Glen Albyn Estate are expanding their business into town and opening lounge bar and eatery, Waterline at the Brooke Street Pier (12 Franklin Wharf, Hobart). The same group have taken over Mustique, the 110ft luxury cruiser on the Hobart harbour, now offering exclusive luxury cruises, intimate gatherings, and lavish lunches and brunches. Bruny Island cheese had handed over their reigns at The Hanging Garden, and the lovechild of St.J’s Deli, Mother Mexico has moved in. Serving up classic Mexican bites for a quick bite or a long lunch. Lark Distillery and Forty Spotted are expanding their territory in Hobart, obtaining the space below Gin Bar to open The Still (30 Argyle Street, Hobart). The ex-Franklin space has been overturned with a retail and tasting space up front and cosy whisky lounge at the back. The Mornington Inn (322 Cambridge Rd, Mornington) is under new management, being taken over by the operators of The Shamrock. A new menu with well-priced pub classics and kids meals will have something for everyone. Fitstop (237 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart) recently opened to get your bod summer fit, with regular HIIT style classes from sunrise to sunset. The Machine Laundry Cafe that we all know and love at Salamanca is opening a sister café in Kingston. Madame Clarke’s (Shop 19 Channel Court, Kingston) will be serving up classic breakfasts and brunches all day. Adairs (85 Collins Street, Hobart) has relocated to where Harris Scarfe was in the Cat & Fiddle arcade next to H&M. Rebel at Heart hair salon (44 Hopkins Street Moonah) has expanded into a big new space in Moonah, boasting an impressive 18 work stations! Down in Salamanca, Miss Haidee Millinery (79 Salamanca Place, Hobart) is the latest addition to the Salamanca arts precinct. Hold onto your Miss Haidee hats in this windy weather though! The new high-vis and workwear super store by RSEA Safety (Homemaker Centre – 66 Kennedy Dr, Cambridge) is certain to catch your eye, holding all the workwear and safety equipment you could possibly need.
HELP FOR THOSE LIVING WITH DISABILITY AND TRAUMA
Have you been affected by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability? Relationships Australia and Li-Ve Tasmania have produced a collection of resources for people living with disability who have experienced trauma. The materials create a pathway to trauma-informed counselling for those affected by the Royal Commission and were co-designed with people living with disability. The materials can be found at www.tas.relationships.org.au/useful-resources
SYDNEY TO HOBART YACHT RACE CONFIRMED FOR 2021
Tassie is swinging its borders open to the skies and the seas with the 76th running of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht race confirmed to go ahead this year. Following cancellation due to COVID last year, 2021 sees a fleet of 112 boats signing up for the 628 nautical mile journey from Sydney Harbour, across Bass Strait and into Hobart. Despite still working on a contingency plan if things go haywire again, organisers are confident they will work through whatever COVID challenges arise. Stay tuned for more information about activities on Hobart’s waterfront to welcome in the sailors.
READY TO WRAP? CHRISTMAS FUN IN THE CITY
Have you seen Hobart City’s 14m tall twinkling Christmas tree at Mawson’s Place? It will be lit up with 7500 LED lights and hundreds of stainless steel baubles every night of the festival season. The Hobart City Council’s popular charity gift wrapping service has also returned to Elizabeth Mall from 6 – 23 December.
TASSIE RESEARCHERS RUN FOR DEMENTIA
Tasmania is host to the world’s largest dementia prevention research project – the ISLAND Project. To raise ever-needed funds for further research into the causes of dementia and other brain diseases, four researchers from the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre are doing an epic run this month. Eddy Hill, Jess Collins, Josh Eastgate and James Brad will run 480km – taking on 25km each per day – as they traverse the state from Devonport to Dover. Track their progress, and perhaps meet them at one of their community stops, at island.mooc. utas.edu.au/RUN
HOBART SCHOOL’S RECONCILIATION AWARD RECOGNITION
Hobart’s St Virgil’s College have won a national Reconciliation Australia award – the Narragunnawali Awards – for their continued work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and implementation of “outstanding reconciliation initiatives”. One such initiative is their tunapri makuminya Project, in which young palawa scientist Jamie Graham Blair conducted a biocultural survey of the Austins Ferry campus to identify plant species of cultural significance to Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The project came to include conservation and regeneration suggestions, and proposals to expand cultural practice and cultural learning opportunities. Mrs Heidi Senior, the school’s deputy principal, said “it was a special day in the life and history of the College, and we continue to walk hand in hand with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community to achieve a just and reconciled island for all First Nations people”. She also said they planned to build upon their work so far.
SOGGY CHIPS: POTATO SHORTAGE LOOMS THIS SUMMER
In bad news for carb lovers, a very wet spring season and rising prices of fertiliser have combined to create a potential Pink Eye shortage this summer. Farmers in the state’s north, in particular, have struggled to get this season’s crop of Tassie’s favourite potato in the ground, and the increased overheads mean some farmers see the classic crop as just too risky this year.
WIN! WHY THE SYDNEY TO HOBART STILL MAKES MY SPINE TINGLE
Words: Andrew Wilson
Back in the ‘80s, when I was kid, every Christmas this incredible worldwide event would descend on Hobart, transforming us locals from the poor disheveled cousins of the ‘mainland’ into the globally iconic finishing line for the Blue Water Classic – the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race!
This may seem like a strange thing to write, but we really didn’t have much else going for us back then – other than a chance of snow on the mountain on Christmas Day.
From Boxing Day to New Years Eve the world’s eyes were on us, and they genuinely loved us. My dad and I would religiously watch the Boxing Day broadcast of the start and absorb every news story in the days following to see which yacht was in the lead, and were they beating Kialoa 2’s long standing race record? Then, as the fleet arrived en-mass we’d complete our annual pilgrimage to the Docks, marveling at the size and colour of the yachts, and the crew.
Back then, through my childhood eyes, nothing could surpass the excitement of the Sydney to Hobart. And if I’m honest it still doesn’t. Even now as I edge towards my half century I feel a tingle down my back writing these words. I am, without question, a complete fanboy of the race and everything it means to so many people in Sydney, Hobart, and from all around the world. That childhood passion for the race, combined with my adult desire to truly understand why it means so much to her spectators and competitors alike, is the reason I spent four years documenting and self-publishing my illustrated title Blue Water Classics: Portraits of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. And you know, I reckon my eight-year-old self would pester his Dad to buy a copy. Or make him enter the draw to win a copy here, thanks to Steph and James from The Hobart Magazine!
Like the race itself Blue Water Classics is a bit of a beast, weighing in at 2.6 kgs thanks to its 500 pages. That’s why I’m also offering readers of The Hobart Magazine free shipping Australia wide by using the coupon code ‘thehobart’ when you buy it from my website bluewaterclassics.com.au. You can find copies in all good bookshops too, even ones on the mainland!
Andrew Wilson is a commercial photographer and author who lives in Hobart. His other titles include his much loved two book series, Old Sea Dogs of Tasmania.
We’re giving away one numbered and signed deluxe edition (only 500 printed, valued at $125), and three signed standard editions, valued $59.99 each. Email us at editor@ thehobartmagazine.com.au with the subject heading “I’m in it to win it!” or tag our Facebook or Instagram competition post. Winner drawn at random at 5pm on 31 December, 2021, before we crack the NYE champers.
CARBAR LAUNCHES INTO TASMANIA WITH NEW EV PARTNERSHIP
Have you thought about buying an electric vehicle but are not ready to commit? Well a carbar subscription might just be the option for you. In partnership with Aurora Energy, you can now try a range of new and used electric vehicles (EVs) through a subscription-based service, removing lock-in contracts and the need to buy outright. It’s the first time this option has been available in Tassie. The vehicles on offer range from the Kia Niro EV ($389 per week) through to a 2020 Nissan Leaf ($279 per week). Want to try a Tesla? We’re told a Tesla Model 3 will be added to the fleet in early 2022. There’s an upfront fee to cover delivery and the initial service, then the weekly fee will cover the rest. You can swap your car and add more cars to your booking. carbar co-founder and CEO Desmond Hang said the barrier to entry for Tasmanians to access EVs will be significantly lowered through the partnership. “Consumers can manage their car – on average their third largest household expense – on a fixed budget. There’s no unexpected running costs and you can cancel your car at any time; we believe this level of flexibility and affordability really resonates with the Tasmanian community.” Aurora CEO, Rebecca Kardos shared, “We’re focused on helping our customers become more sustainable, whether that’s through being more energy efficient in the home or through greater access to low emissions transport.” There are a few great incentives on offer as part of the launch. To find out more head to auroraenergy.com.au/electric-vehicles-carbar
BELLERIVE PUBLIC PIER: MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT UNVEILED IN CLARENCE
A major infrastructure project in Clarence has come to fruition with the official opening of the Bellerive Public Pier, delivering increased amenity and leisure activities just in time for summer. Located where Cambridge Road meets Victoria Esplanade, the Bellerive Public Pier extends 105 metres into the mouth of Kangaroo Bay and features a 2.5-metre-wide walkway with seating, lighting and a navigation beacon at the end. Clarence City Council Mayor Alderman Doug Chipman said, “The Bellerive Public Pier is a significant asset for Clarence – not only does it provide an important boost to local infrastructure, it will also see the community enjoy increased access to our city’s beautiful waterfront for leisure activities,” he said. The pier also acts as a breakwater to reduce and provide protection from waves to Kangaroo Bay, as well as provide protection for public moorings, the public boat ramp, the Bellerive Yacht Club marina and the existing boardwalk infrastructure. The project was delivered with the assistance of a $350,000 grant from the State Government as part of its Community Infrastructure Fund – Major Grants Program initiative.
GOOD LUCK TO THE TASSIES OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS
Four Tasmanians have been commended for their extraordinary community efforts and are on their way to represent Tassie at the Australian of the Year awards in January 2022. Craig Leeson was named Tasmanian of the Year for his eye-opening documentary, A Plastic Ocean – an insight into the human-induced effects of plastic waste in our waterways. Bruce French was named Senior Tasmanian of the Year while Kaytlyn Johnson was awarded Young Tasmanian of the Year and Kimberly Smith our Local Community Hero. People are nominated by their community for their achievements in overcoming challenges and triumphs beyond career achievements. These four will head to Canberra next year as our picks of the bunch, to hopefully follow in the incredible footsteps of this year’s Australian of the Year, Grace Tame. We have no doubt these four will do us proud. Fingers crossed!
VICTORIAN BATTERY-BASED PROJECTS POWER AHEAD…BUT WHAT ABOUT MARINUS?
In a report released late November, Professor Bruce Mountain of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre reported that the much-debated Marinus Link project will likely be a white elephant, and unable to compete with similar lithium battery based projects in Victoria that are powering ahead (pun intended!). Marinus Link is a proposed 1500 megawatt capacity undersea and underground electricity connection to link Tasmania and Victoria as part of Australia’s future electricity grid. It relies on pumped hydro and wind generation, then transporting that electricity through the link. The federal government has committed nearly $100 million to the project, but there are still questions about the final investment and how it will get to market, which aren’t set to be resolved anytime soon. In the report Professor Mountain suggests the battery option will be much quicker to establish, likely by 2026.
SOME RECYCLING OPTIONS AT CAPACITY IN TASMANIA
As the festive season looms and our general consumption of packaged goods increases, there’s news that two avenues for recycling common forms of holiday rubbish are no longer available. Wholefoods store Eumarrah announced they can no longer accept soft plastics for recycling through JJ Richards, and The Jesse Tree, the op shop at the back of All Saints church in South Hobart, have said they can no longer take corks for recycling as there’s now nowhere in Australia processing them. The good news is The Jesse Tree does still accept jars, e-waste, plastic lids, plastic plant pots, prescription glasses, toothbrushes and egg cartons. Your local tip shop can also help you responsibly dispose of various things. As for soft plastics – you can put them in the REDcycle bins at Coles or Woolworths. Search on redcycle.net.au/where-to-redcycle/ to see your closest drop off point. Or better yet…work on cutting back on buying soft plastics.
The students at South Hobart Primary School were recently treated to a very exciting visit from the Westpac Rescue Chopper. The aircraft circled above the school then landed on the oval. The kids welcome the pilot and crew, taking a look through some of the equipment, before they needed to make a quick exit to attend a callout!
NUYINA’S ICE-BREAKING MOMENT
While a snap-lockdown was less than ideal timing for the much-awaited arrival of new icebreaker Nuyina, the ship has again hit rough seas with concern the $1.9b icebreaker may not fit under the Tasman Bridge to refuel. With the Self’s Point fuel terminal located between Cornelian and New Town bays, TasPorts and the Australian Antarctic Division are conducting risk assessments and vessel simulations to ensure the ship will fit safely.
Five years after the project began, the assessment will identify the limitations imposed by ‘windage’ – the surface area exposed to the force of the wind, on its transit under the Tasman arch. AAD Director Kim Ellis shared with us, “The simulation testing couldn’t be done until we had data on the ship’s capabilities from the 24,000-kilometre delivery voyage from the Netherlands. This ensures the testing can be as accurate as possible using real information from the ship at sea.” Ms Ellis said this information will be finalised by mid-November for a voyage to Antarctica at the end of December. In the meantime, the Nuyina will head north to Burnie to refuel and take on the SAB (Special Antarctic Blend) fuel while commissioned staff familiarise themselves with the world’s most advanced ice-breaker. Nuyina will be the lifeline for Australian Antarctic efforts, carrying up to 1.9 million litres of fuel down to Antarctica where it can refuel two stations and carry 1200 tonnes of cargo.
LAUNDRY SERVICE FOR HOMELESS
A free laundry service for people experiencing homelessness and income stress has been so popular it’s moving to the Hobart Town Hall. Volunteer service Orange Sky Laundry has been operating from the Hobart City Mission’s premises in Barrack Street until now. In the last 12 months they’ve washed and dried around 1800 loads of laundry. They will now use the Town Hall’s parking deck for a weekly service, operating on Thursday evenings, with a 12-month trial arrangement.
CERVICAL CANCER ALMOST ELIMINATED IN AUSTRALIA
In rare good news regarding cancer, Australia looks set to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer. In just two years it will be considered a ‘rare cancer’, and by 2028 it’s predicted to be eliminated here. It’s all thanks to a comprehensive prevention strategy that began in 1991, involving regular pap smears, free HPV vaccines for girls (and for boys since 2013). Last year Australia replaced pap smears with HPV cervical screening tests, which are predicted to reduce cancer rates by up to 30 per cent in conjunction with the vaccine. Yay science!
HOBART CHRISTMAS LUNCHES FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY
This year, there are a bunch of community lunches being held across Hobart for anyone wanting to share some ham or turkey on Christmas day. Colony 47 are holding their traditional Christmas lunch at the Hellenic Hall, 67 Federal Street, North Hobart. Our Table is making the festive season a little brighter for anyone missing a loved one with a community lunch followed by a memorial service at the Battery Point Community Hall, bookings are essential. The Salvation Army in collaboration with the Clarence City Council is hosting a Christmas brunch at the Howrah Community Centre from 10:30am, no bookings required but a heads up is always welcome. If you’re doing it a bit tough this year, chat to Hobart City Mission if some food packs, vouchers and gifts for the little ones can help ease the stress of putting on a Christmas spread.
NEW GUIDELINES TO ADDRESS SPECTATOR RACISM AT SPORTING EVENTS
A new set of guidelines will help Australian sports organisations act effectively and consistently in responding to incidents of spectator racism and preventing racism from occurring at sporting events. Major professional sports organisations including the AFL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, and some of the nation’s largest stadiums have already endorsed the guidelines, and more are expected to sign on. Blundstone Arena isn’t on the list, but hopefully will sign on soon. Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the Commission spearheaded the development of these guidelines in response to numerous incidents of spectator racism over the past year. “Sport holds a unique place in Australian society, it encapsulates our values of equality and fairness and helps us connect to each other but unfortunately, racism in sport remains an ongoing issue,” he said. “When racist incidents happen, they can have a long-lasting impact on those affected, and damaging social consequences. There is no place for racism anywhere, and that includes sport.” The guidelines identify actions that can be taken consistently across sporting codes in responding to incidents of spectator racism. This includes proactive measures to prevent racism from occurring, and appropriate support for impacted parties when it does occur. The Commission intends the guidelines to be the first stage in an ongoing partnership with signatory codes, clubs, and venues to strengthen their anti-racism work and policies.
SOCCER UPGRADES AT LIGHTWOOD PARK BOOST FIFA HOPES
Still on sport, a bunch of Tassie sports fields are being upgraded in an attempt to win the rights to host team base camps locally for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup. The project will see the construction of eight new change rooms and the installation of new lighting. During the 2021 State Election campaign, the Tasmanian Government committed $10 million towards soccer facility upgrades at Devonport (Valley Road), Launceston (Birch Avenue and Churchill Park) and Kingborough (Lightwood Park). Three million dollars has been committed to upgrading Lightwood Park, with this stage of the project expected to be completed by the end of the year. The remaining funds for the $3.4 million project are being provided through a Tasmanian Government Levelling the Playing Field Grant and by the Kingborough Council. This investment adds to the $300,000 over two years committed to Football Tasmania to increase the growth and boost the profile of women and girls participating in football in Tasmania.
FINAL CROWTHER REINTERPRETED ARTWORK IN PLACE
The last of four temporary artworks in response to the controversial William Crowther statue in Franklin Square is now on display. ‘Something Missing’ is a filmed series of vox pops in which journalist and photographer Jillian Mundy asks members of the public about the statue, which was hidden inside a crate at the time. You can have your say on the future of the statue at yoursay.hobartcity. com.au/crowther.
LOCALS WIN $250K FROM ELON MUSK FOR CLIMATE WORK
A team of University of Tasmania students has won $250,000 as part of a prestigious international competition to help solve the climate crisis. University of Tasmania team Blue Symbiosis was named one of 23 winners worldwide for its concept, which aims to grow seaweed on old offshore oil and gas platforms. The seaweed will hopefully sequester carbon from our oceans, and it may also be harvested and used to make fire-resilient bricks. The XPRIZE Carbon Removal Student Competition, sponsored by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Foundation, was launched to fund early concepts for carbon removal technologies by student-led teams.
CAN YOU SEE OR SMELL SMOKE?
A new feature of the AirRater smartphone app, developed by the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, will harness the power of citizen science to help reduce the impacts of bushfire smoke on Australian communities. The AirRater app now includes a “smoke reporting tool”, to crowd-source reports of smoke from bushfires and planned burns. Those reports will feed directly into a CSIRO-developed smoke forecasting tool called AQFx. Fire and air quality managers around Australia hope to learn more about how smoke moves through the landscape as a result. Professor Fay Johnston, chief investigator of the AirRater project, said the effects of smoke could be deadly. “Our research estimates over 400 people died from the impacts of bushfire smoke during the Black Summer bushfires,” she said. “By downloading AirRater and reporting bushfire smoke, people can help us understand how bushfire smoke is moving and impacting communities in real time,” she said. The AirRater app can also now provide members of the public with access to real-time air quality information sourced from AQFx, using Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts, information from state and territory environment department air quality sensors, satellites, fire information and smoke reports from AirRater.
BUSHFIRE SURVEY REVEALS 4 IN 5 ARE WAITING FOR A SERIOUS ONE
A new survey of Hobart residents living adjacent to bushland has had some interesting results. Four in five respondents expect to experience a serious bushfire during their lifetime, and 46% said they need help to prepare for such a bushfire. At least 18% said they would stay and defend their homes from bushfire and would consider leaving only in extreme circumstances, (which is the worst time to leave). Dr Chloe Lucas from the University of Tasmania surveyed more than 400 people living on the urban fringe of Hobart in areas most exposed to bushfire risk, including Fern Tree, South Hobart, West Hobart, Lenah Valley and Mt Nelson. Almost half of them said the thought of bushfire caused them stress. “One of the things that makes people anxious is if they don’t have a clear idea of the point at which they’ll decide it’s not safe to stay,” Dr Lucas said. “Working out a safe trigger to leave, and how to recognise that trigger when it happens is a vital part of bushfire planning.” As summer approaches, residents are urged to prepare for the bushfire season, which is expected to start later than usual thanks to our wet spring, but could be fuelled by increased vegetation that will quickly dry out over summer. Dr Lucas said many people understand they can dramatically reduce the bushfire risk to their home and family by creating a defendable space, and maintaining their house and garden. Everyone living in or near bushland is urged to prepare or review their Bushfire Survival Plan. Information on how to create a plan is available at bushfire.tas.gov.au.
ROSNY COMMUNITY INVITED TO PAINT UP A STORM
The Montagu Bay public toilet block is set to become ‘Bog Beautiful’ with work commencing on a paint by numbers art project. Artist leading the project Mel McVee said the paint by numbers mural is a great way of engaging the community to help create positive change in their local area. “I’m inviting residents of all ages and skill levels to come along to help paint the first layers of the design. It’s easy, fun and a great way to create something beautiful that will be here for years to come,” Ms McVee said. The Mural project is funded by Bank of us, through its Bank of useful ideas community initiative. The mural will be finished to a high standard by Mel and will be added to the #bogbeautiful toilet trail the artist is running all over Tasmania.
INTEREST IN EXTENDING DERWENT FERRY TO SATURDAYS
The Salamanca Market Stallholders association is welcoming the extension to the Derwent ferry services and is requesting the inclusion of Saturday services. A Saturday service would allow patrons from across the Derwent to sail directly to the Salamanca Market doorstep. Association president, Emma Hope said there is a great opportunity to create a unique service whilst also taking the pressure off the congested roads around the area. “Salamanca Market is Tasmania’s top visitor attraction and being able to combine that with a ferry ride on one of Australia’s most picturesque waterways would be an unbeatable combination,” says Ms Hope. A Saturday ferry service has the opportunity to also support the Tasmanian Produce Market in Kangaroo Bay held each Saturday morning. Ms Hope is calling for Saturday services to be implemented in time for the border opening on 15 December. We have a feeling Battery Point residents would certainly appreciate some freed up parking spaces on a Saturday morning!
INAUGURAL TEDX HOBART PROGRAM ANNOUNCED
Some of Hobart’s most interesting artists, thinkers and changemakers will present talks as part of the TEDx Hobart event on February 12. The line-up includes entomologist Shasta Henry, independent funeral director Rebecca Lyons, fish scientist Lokman Norazmi and swimming and diving instructor Nadia Azizabadi. You can also hear scientist Qamar Schuyler, who has written numerous columns in The Hobart Magazine, talk about marine debris. For more information about the program and ticketing head to their Facebook page.
HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS THIS CHRISTMAS
A helping hand is always welcomed over this time of the year. If you find yourself with some extra time or resources, a tax-deductible donation to Loaves & Fishes Tasmania will give a Tasmanian family a big, fat hamper filled with all sorts of Christmas delights. The Hobart City Mission is continuing their annual food and toy Christmas drive. Goodies can be dropped off at their Barrack Street store and don’t forget to mention Christmas! The Salvation Army is welcoming non-perishable goods and gifts to any Salvos store or to their Derwent Park warehouse, just give them a heads up if you can so they can distribute to someone in need. If you can help with a food donation or as a volunteer for their Christmas lunch in Howrah too, give Joel a call 0417190413. There are many organisations offering help at this time of year. If you know of a charity that is helping, please email us at email@example.com and we’ll share it on our socials.
THE BORDERS ARE OPENING. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Words: Lily Whiting, Stephanie Williams
Picture: Universal Pictures
Two years ago, who would have thought our everyday conversations in 2021 would revolve around words like social distancing, vaxxed, vertical drinking, sanny and restrictions.
As Tassie residents we’ve been fortunate that our lives haven’t been impacted too heavily by the collateral damage of COVID, racking up only about 80 days in lockdown in almost two years since the first case.
As we approach the grand reopening on 15 December, we’re happy for our hospitality and tourism operators who are set to be at full throttle once again, and to see family in New South Wales and Victoria. But what will life be like once the inevitable patient zero comes to a state that topped the list of best places to survive a global disaster?
The Tasmanian Health Service calls this opening the transition from zero cases to living in a COVID-19 vaccinated community. With the goal of 90% vaccinated before opening looking good, Tassie-specific modelling by Professor Raina MacIntyre from the Kirby Institute predicts Tassie will still inevitably get its first few cases within days of borders opening to the fully-vaxxed only. South Australia recently clocked their first case on the first day after reopening.
It’s already been declared Tassie will maintain some social and public health measures once borders open, aiming to protect the vulnerable and our youngest cohort who won’t be able to get the jab till January, fingers crossed, and then get back to school on time. The Reconnecting Tasmania Plan hasn’t ruled out imposing masks or further density restrictions if required.
Without any social distancing measures, modelling suggests Tassie could reach a couple of hundred cases per day within weeks. Focus is on encouraging booster shots and more mandated vaccinated sectors to help minimise hospitalisations and keep Tassie functioning “covid normal”.
Despite the vaccinated still able to be infected and transmit COVID, hospitalisation and serious illness is reduced by up to 90% after getting the jab. So how will border entries work for the vaxxed and what do we do with unvaxxed travellers at the border? The current TAS E-travel and G2G system will remain with a vaccination declaration required for all travellers. Visitors from high-risk areas will also need to provide a negative test result from within a 72 hour window before arriving in Tasmania. All these requirements will be shown to biosecurity officers upon arrival. For those who don’t have the test prior, there is a hotel stay on the cards till a negative test is produced.
All this sounds strict and like a well-thought-out plan, but then it was also announced that the Tasmanian Government may not actually be checking every single passenger’s vaccination status like they do with a G2G pass, rather spot checks upon arrival. This isn’t a fruit fly infestation, it’s COVID and lives are at risk. You’d have to consider it’s better to over engineer the border entry and have people waiting to have their vaccination status checked on the tarmac rather than the emergency ward?
Currently, NSW is recording about 200 cases a day and Vic about 1000. Overseas, Europe is undergoing its fourth wave, with some countries vaccination rates as low as 30%. A resurgence in North America is looking likely as they recently recorded a 23% increase in cases, hinting that a cold winter and impending Christmas gatherings are the perfect breeding ground for COVID.
Tasmanians will soon become very familiar with vaccine passports, more nose swabs and breaking out the hand sanitiser and masks once again. Our reunions are going to be extra glorious in time for Christmas after another year of being separated from loved ones across the ditch.
With almost all states on board to rule out border closures in the future, fingers crossed 2022 will bring back easy travel and less need for emotional reunions.