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Australia: Travellers WON'T have to pay for PCR test to travel to Queensland

Expensive COVID-19 test requirement may be scrapped as Queensland reviews border rules

  Expensive COVID-19 test requirement may be scrapped as Queensland reviews border rules The Queensland government reviews border requirements which currently see families faced with paying hundreds of dollars for COVID tests when entering the state. Queensland is just weeks away from reopening to people from interstate hotspots, with the state's borders set to open once 80 per cent of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.Based on the latest figures, that could be between December 6 and December 12.Under the state government's roadmap, all new arrivals must be double-vaccinated and have had a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before entering Queensland.

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Travellers from Covid-19 hot spots will no longer have to fork out $150 for a PCR test to cross the border into Queensland, with the federal government footing the bill for Annastacia Palaszczuk's border demands.

The Sunshine State's borders will open up next month once 80 per cent of residents are double vaccinated, and travellers leaving hot spots will need to return a negative test result 72 hours prior to arrival.

However, fury and confusion had mounted at the decision to charge these travellers for the PCR tests which are $150 per person in some clinics - instead of allowing them to receive the cheaper and fully approved rapid antigen tests.

Testy moment Annastacia Palaszczuk hits out on $145 Covid tests

  Testy moment Annastacia Palaszczuk hits out on $145 Covid tests Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to change the need for a $145 test for interstate people to enter the state, as she came under fire for the policy at a press conference. The Queensland government had been criticised for insisting on the need for a Covid test from a private pathology clinic within 72 hours of arriving in the state when it fully re-opens on December 17. A family of five will face a bill of $725, for example, in order to meet the requirement upon entering the state for holidays.

The cost of the swab will be split between the federal government and states and territories, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Tuesday.

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Queensland Premier Palaszczuk welcomed the decision and said 'we work best when we work together'.

'I am pleased this victory has occurred and people can look forward to being reunited in time for Christmas – without additional cost – as my government had always planned.'

The charge for the PCR test is only necessary if someone needed a certificate but negative results via text messages will be accepted for free, the premier added.

'Queensland made it plain weeks ago that the text message most people receive after a test is acceptable,' Ms Palaszczuk said.

Greg Hunt critical of Qld's controversial PCR test requirement in border policy

  Greg Hunt critical of Qld's controversial PCR test requirement in border policy Queensland's Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has hit back at a letter sent by the federal government, saying the constant criticism is "absolutely appalling".Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt wrote to Ms D'Ath on Monday to raise concerns about Queensland's proposed COVID-19 testing for those entering the state.

She had earlier called on Mr Hunt to make the PCR tests eligible for a Medicare rebate.

However, the federal health minister said tests at government-ran sites were always free unless an official certificate was needed and added the Queensland premier owed her state an apology.

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'The Commonwealth has always funded 50 per cent of the cost of the PCR tests, as outlined in the Agreement the Premier signed on 13 March 2020,' he tweeted on Tuesday night.

'The only thing that has changed is that after accepting text confirmation for 18 months and then rejecting it for 24 hours, Queensland is now accepting the same text messages again, dropping their demand for a certificate.

'It's time the Premier apologised for the unnecessary stress she has caused to Queenslanders and those planning to travel there.'

Mr Hunt had earlier fired off a scathing letter to Queensland counterpart Yvette D'Ath to raise his concerns and suggest rapid antigen testing be considered as an alternative.

Hunt moves to allay fears travellers will be slugged $150 to enter Qld

  Hunt moves to allay fears travellers will be slugged $150 to enter Qld The fact text messages will be allowed to be used as proof of a negative COVID result means travellers entering Queensland after the 80 per cent vaccination target is met will not need to fork out.At the 80 per cent double-dose milestone, which could be reached as early as December 6, people will be allowed to enter Queensland from interstate hotspots as long as they return a negative PCR test 72 hours beforehand.

'I note this declaration is a Queensland-only definition of a hotspot and has not been declared by the Australian Government's Chief Medical Officer,' Mr Hunt wrote.

'I am concerned about this in two regards. Firstly, it appears Queensland has failed to give sufficient regard to the value of rapid antigen testing in this context, and secondly, that Queensland is proposing not to assist Queenslanders with the provision of these tests.'

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Ms Palaszczuk on Monday was grilled by reporters about the expense of the PCR test as well as loopholes on where people undertake the test.

A family of five would have been forced to fork out $725 in order to meet the requirement upon entering the state over the Christmas period.

'We make no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe, it's the same as other states,' Ms Palaszczuk said.

The latest figures show 85.01 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose and 74.07 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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