Sydney Airport CEO's push for huge change to international arrivals

The CEO of Sydney Airport has pushed for a change for international arrivals as health authorities await information on the Omicron Covid-19 strain.

CEO Geoff Culbert told The Daily Telegraph closing international borders to skilled workers and students from overseas “makes sense” for the time being after the Morrison Government announced on Monday it has paused them until December 15.

But Mr Culbert believes while there is still more to learn about how deadly the Omicron strain is, in the long-term polymerase chain reaction or PCR testing should be scrapped.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert is pictured.
Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert has backed the post-ponement of re-opening international borders but says PCR testing isn't necessary in the future. Source: ABC News

“People look at travel and they say well, okay, if I’m going to have to do a PCR test on departure, a PCR test on arrival, and then when I’m coming back I’ve got to do a PCR test on departure and a PCR test on arrival,” he told the paper.

“And they start looking at all the forms you’ve got to fill out and all the process, people say well, maybe I’m just going to go somewhere where I don’t have to do all that stuff until all of those protocols and procedures go away.”

Mr Culbert suggested the best defence NSW has against Covid-19 is its high vaccination rate which is currently more than 92 per cent. He said travellers who are fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine should be given the green light to enter without undergoing any testing.

“Testing is probably unnecessary because the shield is the vaccination rate that we’ve got in NSW,” Mr Culbert said.

“The shield is not a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.”

Currently, under the health department’s guidelines, even with borders shut, evidence of a negative PCR test needs to be given on arrival in Australia. This is for people who are fully vaccinated while the unvaccinated are not permitted entry.

Two people are seen hugging each other after one arrives from a Melbourne flight this morning in Adelaide.
Mr Culbert believes PCR testing and its costs might discourage people from travelling. Source: AAP

Queensland will also require domestic travellers to provide evidence of a negative PCR test when it reopens its borders to NSW and Victoria in a few weeks.

There was a bit of a stir last week which forced Health Minister Yvette D’Ath to apologise over suggestions that free testing, the text message people receive from public health clinics, would not be accepted.

Some PCR tests from other pathologists can cost about $150.

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