Queensland has caved to mounting political pressure and will allow travellers from interstate Covid hotspots to enter with a negative result from a Rapid Antigen Test.
"From January 1 travellers into Qld from interstate hotspots can use a negative Rapid Antigen Test to satisfy border pass requirements.," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted on Wednesday morning.
"A PCR test will no longer be required. More details in our morning media conference."
Visitors to Queensland had required a negative PCR test within 72 hours of coming to the state. Now they will be able to rely on the rapid tests on sale at supermarkets. However the test kits are in short supply in NSW, with residents reporting they are impossible to buy.
Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud on Wednesday said the federal government is working on a funding arrangement with the states to provide RAT tests for free, as is done in the United Kingdom.
It comes after NSW Health urged Queensland to drop the requirement which was putting extra strain on already overwhelmed testing clinics with NSW premier Dominic Perrottet claiming as many as three in ten tests were due to people seeking to cross the northern border.
Wait times for results have grown increasingly long, with the usual 24-hour turnaround blowing out to five days in some cases, hampering holiday plans and complicating access to hospital treatments for some non-Covid patients.
"There are people getting tests who don't have any symptoms, are not feeling unwell ... and are taking the place of people who are unwell or who are required to get a test by NSW Health," Mr Perrottet said.
On Tuesday, Queensland scrapped a separate mandate that forced interstate travellers from hotspots to get a PCR test on day five of their holiday in the Sunshine State.
"Anyone who is waiting in lines now for their day five test can leave," Health Minister Yvette D’Ath told reporters.
"They will not be required to get day five tests from now."
On Wednesday, South Australian premier Steven Marshall announced the state will no longer provide pre-departure testing for travellers because of overwhelming demand. It will also drop the requirement for incoming travellers to have had a negative PCR test within 72 hours.
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