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Travel rules could change, isolation for close contacts halved


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has dismissed suggestions that travellers bound for the Sunshine State are behind the huge queues overwhelming COVID-19 testing interstate.

Ms Palaszczuk said travellers heading to Queensland comprised just 10 per cent of the queues in New South Wales.

“That’s our information. We do have the data,” she said.

“Ten percent of the line ups are for people that want to get their PCR tests to travel all around Australia, not just Queensland.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the state’s border policy. (9News)

She said the massive queues – which are leading to hours-long wait times and delays in results – were more likely due to the large spread of the Omicron variant in southern states.

Currently, fully-vaccinated people seeking to enter Queensland from a domestic hotspot must receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test in the 72 hours preceding their border crossing.

They must also be tested again on the fifth day of their arrival in Queensland.

According to travel data, of the 257,000 who arrived in Queensland since Monday, December 20 from Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, all would have required a COVID-19 test by Friday December 17, to enter Queensland.

The total number of tests completed since that time in those states is 1,351,174, meaning 19 per cent of those tested are now in Queensland.

Queensland could change its border entry rules. (Cameron Atfield)

Testing-related delays are seeing some people arrive at the Queensland border without their result.

About 200 cars are being turned away every day, and other people are being forced to cancel their trips.

But Ms Palaszczuk said the current requirements would remain in place until at least the new year.

Cars at the pop up Covid Testing Centre at Frenchs Forest Aquatic Centre Drive in Sydney..
Cars at the pop up Covid Testing Centre at Frenchs Forest Aquatic Centre Drive in Sydney.. (Renee Nowytarger)

She said she had spoken to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who is pressing for a change to the entry rules.

“We had a very good conversation,” she said.

One suggestion has been to allow travellers to have a rapid antigen test rather than a PCR test.

“We are happy to get further advice from AHPPC about rapid antigen testing,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

For the remainder of the year, however, PCR testing will still be needed to cross the border.

Emotions flow as families reunited after Queensland border reopens

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly said state’s should be focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“This reliance on testing to travel is interfering with our efforts to reduce case load,” Professor Kelly said.

A new rule has also come into effect overnight which marks a significant change for people designated as close contacts in Queensland.

From today, fully-vaccinated close contacts will only have to isolate for seven days, as opposed to 14.

Queensland recorded 186 new COVID-19 cases today, up from 79 yesterday.



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