Queensland has scrapped a testing rule for interstate travellers enjoying their summer holidays.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath told reporters on Tuesday, travellers entering Queensland from hotspots will no longer need to get tested for Covid-19 via a hospital or pathologist on day five of their holidays effective immediately.
“Anyone who is waiting in lines now for their day five test can leave,” she said.
“They will not be required to get day five tests from now.”
Ms D’Ath said “recent data” showed 0.6 per cent of day five tests conducted in Queensland were positive. The advice to end day five testing came from Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard.
The rule change comes as Queensland recorded over 1000 daily Covid cases for the first time with 1,158 new infections recorded. Only six people are in hospital with no one in intensive care.
Ms D’Ath added the online border pass will still ask people to present for day five testing.
“Please say yes to that,” Ms D’Ath said.
“Because that will be the way that you still get your border pass, but we will make sure the website tells you you don’t actually have to undertake that test.”
This will be updated at some point in the near future.
Rule criticised by politicians and travellers
The previous rule meant many people had to line up for hours on Christmas Day and subsequent public holidays for PCR testing.
Queensland’s rules for travel, which include returning a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in the state, have been lambasted by many in NSW including Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
Mr Hazzard and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet have criticised the 72-hour rule for causing long queues at state testing facilities.
Holidaymakers in the Sunshine State weren’t too keen on them either, labelling the day five PCR tests “ridiculous”.
A Melbourne resident visiting Brisbane for Christmas, who did not wish to be named, told Yahoo News Australia she lined up at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for a test on Boxing Day.
“I got there at about 7.40am and there were about 45 people in front of me,” she said.
“I felt that because I was double-vaxxed and had the 72-hour test, I don’t think lining up for the day five test was necessary.”
She did not leave the facility until 9.30am. She does, however, support the 72-hour test before arrival in Queensland.
Paddington resident Owen Mayhew told The Courier-Mail on Monday he was lining up at the same hospital for his day five test after visiting NSW for his 70th birthday last week. He lined up at 7.30am.
“I came to this clinic because it’s relatively local – we tried to get in early but I’ve been in the line for an hour and a half and probably have another 30 minutes to go,” he told the paper.
People on social media weren’t too happy with the rule either.
“This is not ‘living with Covid’,” one man tweeted.
Another man called it “ridiculous” while others stressed about being able to obtain a test in regional parts of Queensland such as The Whitsundays.
It should be noted though the rule had some level of flexibility for people holidaying in areas without testing facilities open on Christmas Day. They could have taken a test on day six if possible.
“All of this sounds like a f****** nightmare. Still not worth going anywhere,” another man tweeted.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 72-hour test could be discarded in the New Year in favour of rapid antigen testing.
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