Virus isolation payments for Tasmanians

Ethan James
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Peter Gutwein

'This virus will be a marathon not a sprint,' Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has told parliament

Tasmanian families forced to self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for one-off payments of up to $1000 under a $420 million state stimulus package.

A public health emergency was declared in the Apple Isle on Tuesday, while the state government revealed a first wave of economy boosting measures.

Individuals forced to isolate can receive emergency relief payments of $250, while $2 million has been set aside for supporting GPs and pharmacies.

"This virus will be a marathon not a sprint," Premier Peter Gutwein told parliament.

"Throughout this period we need to continue to support those around us and, in particular, our most vulnerable."

Under the plan, $20 million in interest-free loans will be provided to the hospitality, tourism, seafood and exports sectors.

Payroll tax will be waived for the remainder of the year for businesses in those industries.

There will also be $1 million to support frontline worker accommodation and $1 million for mental health organisations.

Tasmania has recorded seven virus cases to date, but none have been transmitted locally.

Under the public health emergency declaration, the public health director has been given authority to quarantine, isolate and evacuate people.

The powers will initially be used to ban mass gatherings and ensure people arriving from overseas self-isolate for two weeks.

"It is the next step in the proportionate and scalable response we're taking," Mr Gutwein said.

Anglican church gatherings of more than 10 people have been canned, with weekly services to move online.

In state parliament, lower house members strategically sat several seats apart and sitting hours have been cut back indefinitely.

Hobart's popular Museum of New and Old Art is closing from Wednesday to ensure the safety of staff, visitors, contractors and the community.

Owner David Walsh conceded there is a chance MONA could become a "major centre for contagion".

"I'm closing it, without certainty and with some loss of pride, but I'm closing it," he wrote in a statement.

"I hope people care enough to visit when we reopen. I hope that people care enough to understand why we've closed."

The decision comes after Mr Walsh last week announced midwinter festival Dark Mofo would not go ahead due to financial worries.

In the north, Launceston's Leisure and Aquatic Centre and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery have closed temporarily.