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Will Queensland really demand PCR tests for domestic arrivals into the state?

Queensland will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from declared hotspots once it hits the 80 per cent vaccination target, however, interstate arrivals from hotspots will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

Queensland will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from declared hotspots once it hits the 80 per cent vaccination target, however, interstate arrivals from hotspots will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

The sunshine state is on track to hit the 80 per cent fully vaccinated milestone no later than December 17, which will mean that all doubly vaccinated Australians outside of the state can enter by road and air.

However, as it stands, arrivals from QLD declared hotspots including New South Wales and Victoria will need to provide a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel after the 80 per cent mark has been reached, at their own expense.

Rapid antigen tests will not be accepted as they are not deemed as accurate compared to PCR tests.

Will this be the Grinch rule that steals another Christmas from loved ones and the wider tourism industry?

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Queensland is going it alone by requiring fully vaccinated travellers to get a PCR test to enter the state and urged the government to reconsider the plan.

PCR tests can cost up to $150 at private laboratories, and it’s unclear if people will be able to get free tests at state-run clinics for travel purposes.

Mr Hunt says hotspots are declared by the Commonwealth, not the states, and declarations are automatically repealed on jurisdictions that reach 80 per cent vaccination coverage.

He’s written to his Queensland counterpart Yvette D’Ath to query the state’s plan to go it alone on travel restrictions.

“This declaration is a Queensland-only definition of a hot spot and has not been declared by the Australian government’s Chief Medical Officer,” he wrote in the letter, seen by AAP.

“Under the National Plan, agreed to by all first ministers, the Commonwealth’s hotspot declaration automatically ceases within a particular state or territory two weeks after the 80 per cent fully vaccinated rate has been reached within that jurisdiction.”

QLD-NSW_Border
Prepare for queues this Christmas at the QLD/NSW border

The national plan does not compel states to automatically lift restrictions on fully vaccinated domestic travellers; it only says they “may” do so.

Mr Hunt said he’s concerned that Queensland isn’t considering accepting rapid antigen tests (RAT) for interstate visitors nor providing free PCR tests for Queensland residents returning home.

“RAT offers significant advantages in cost, speed and convenience, and I encourage you to consider further what role it could play in Queensland’s border arrangements,” he wrote.

The health minister said the federal government has jointly funded $270 million for PCR testing within state and territory clinics since the pandemic began.

He suggested the Commonwealth was ready to fund testing within Queensland to ensure no costs are imposed on people needing a test, including interstate travel.

“Given there has been no change to these arrangements, it is unclear to me why Queensland would now be suggesting that a different approach should be taken,” Mr Hunt said.

“It is difficult to see any reason for this other than Queensland seeking to remove its responsibility to ensure the provision of testing, including bearing 50 per cent of costs, as agreed under the partnership.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk brushed aside concerns about whether the measure will affect the state’s tourism sector on Monday, saying other jurisdictions had the same testing requirements for domestic travellers.

“This is the same requirement for people wanting to go and experience Western Australian tourism, Tasmanian tourism (and) South Australian tourism,” she said.

Once 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are vaccinated, quarantine will also be scrapped for fully jabbed international travellers who test negative to COVID-19.

Via AAP