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Christmas in Queensland? PCR tests to be free for hotspot arrivals

The controversial COVID-19 PCR tests required for travellers entering Queensland will remain free once the state hits 80 per cent vaccination coverage, which is estimated to be in the next couple of weeks.

The controversial COVID-19 PCR tests required for travellers entering Queensland will remain free once the state hits 80 per cent vaccination coverage, which is estimated to be in the next couple of weeks.

In what is brighter news for anyone travelling to Queensland, especially for Christmas, the state will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers who test negative from hotspots in NSW, Victoria and the ACT once it hits the 80 per cent target.

However, there’s been debate about who will pay for the tests which cost up to $150 per person with both the Commonwealth and Queensland refusing to budge.

At issue was whether Queensland authorities would accept a text message test result, which is the standard in most jurisdictions, or if they needed costlier test certificates.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday morning a text message would suffice before Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed that in a statement later in the day. 

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt then confirmed that ongoing 50-50 federal-state funding would apply to the PCR tests needed to enter Queensland.

“The only thing that has changed is that after accepting text confirmation for 18 months and then rejecting it for 24 hours, Queensland is now accepting the same text messages again, dropping their demand for a certificate,” he said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Ms Palaszczuk said the state government was happy to accept text messages as proof, removing the PCR test cost.

She also denied there had been any confusion about whether a certificate or text message would be accepted upon arrival.

“Minister Hunt says the charge for a PCR test was only when a certificate is required,” she said in a statement.

“Queensland made it plain weeks ago that the text message most people receive after a test is acceptable.

“I am pleased this victory has occurred and people can look forward to being reunited in time for Christmas – without additional cost – as my government had always planned.”

The latest figures show 85.01 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose and 74.07 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Ms Palaszczuk earlier on Tuesday admitted the 72-hour PCR test limit would rule out overnight or short trips interstate for most Queenslanders.

“So at the moment going to Sydney for a day or two would be out of the question until we get to that 90 per cent double dose,” she said.

Queensland recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one in hotel quarantine.

Via AAP