The Health Minister has left the door open for testing rules to be relaxed for border residents once Queensland hits 80 per cent double dose.
That’s despite the Premier saying on Monday that any exemptions were unlikely to happen.
There is growing concern about the impost on border residents who, under current rules will be required to have a PCR test every three days at a cost of up to $150 each time.
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New South Wales Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish says that will be a major burden for those crossing the border every day.
“Not only the direct financial cost but also for people who are looking to cross the border repeatedly during the week for various reasons then also there’s the time requirement for those people to go and get those tests,” Mr McTavish told the ABC.
Mr McTavish said the testing requirement would also turn a lot of people off travelling into Queensland from other hotspots.
“You’ve got a family of five, you’ll be paying more for your PCR test than you would for your airfare…and for people who are looking to catch up with their family for Christmas, it’s a substantial financial impost.
“We hope that for people in those border communities they’ll be exempted from that requirement but for people travelling from Sydney or from Melbourne for example, it’s a substantial additional cost that many of them would not have anticipated.”
The state government has ruled out the use of cheaper Rapid Antigen Tests arguing they are not as accurate.
When asked about exemptions for border residents on Monday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s reply was “probably not at this stage.”
But now Health Minister Yvette D’ath has hinted there may be fewer testing requirements for border zone residents.
“We’re looking at and taking the advice from the public health officials at the moment about when we get to those rates what should the border zone arrangements look like,” Ms D’ath said.
“So that’s very different for someone who just wants to go over the border zone for a day trip and come back and we’re looking at those arrangements at the moment and trying to make sure it’s sensible but also that it’s safe and responsible.
Mr McTavish says while all of New South Wales is currently declared a hotspot by Queensland, the high vaccination rates in the north of the state should provide some comfort for officials.
He has urged the Queensland government to make a decision quickly.
“Most people would just like some certainty around what testing will be required, who will be paying for that and what the regime will look like going into the new year as well.”