Travellers to Queensland are going to be slugged with expensive mandatory Covid tests despite outrage about the decision.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the plan to force those entering Queensland from mid-December to spend almost $150 on Covid-19 tests.
The state is preparing to open its borders when the state reaches 80 per cent vaccine coverage — which could be as soon as December 6 — to those who are fully vaccinated and with proof of a negative test from within 72 hours of travel.
But health authorities will not allow travellers to use the cheaper rapid antigen tests (RAT) available at pharmacies for about $20 or less.
Instead, they will be forced to get the costly PCR alternative, which the tourism sector fears will be an added burden on the sector leading into Christmas, at a cost of about $145 each.
Rapid tests are accepted in other parts of the country, including Victoria, but the Queensland Premier insisted other states are also enforcing the use of CPR tests.
“It’s not just Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Monday morning.
“If you have a look through the other jurisdictions, you’ll find it’s pretty much the same where people are coming from hot spots.
“This is the same requirement for people wanting to go and experience Western Australia tourism, Tasmanian tourism and South Australian tourism.”
Acting chief health officer Peter Aitken was quizzed about the possibility of travellers manipulating the policy in reaction to the costly approach by the government.
Under the policy, travellers would be able to get a test in Queensland then travel to areas with high cases of Covid, such as NSW, and re-enter Queensland within 72-hours with the same test from before being exposed to the virus.
“That is a loophole we’ll look at,” Dr Aitken told reporters.
“It’s certainly not the intent — the intent is certainly for people to have a test in the area they’ve been exposed to.
“That’s what we want Queenslanders to do and that’s what I think Queenslanders will do — that’s the sensible thing, to have a test after they’ve been exposed.
“This is there to protect Queensland and we trust Queenslanders will do the right thing.”
Entry requirements from Covid hot spots at 80 per cent:
- Travellers can arrive by air or road
- Must be fully vaccinated
- Have a negative Covid test in the 72-hours before travel
- No quarantine required
Entry requirements when Queensland reaches 90 per cent vaccinated:
- Quarantine limited to unvaccinated only