Queensland has caved to mounting political pressure and will allow travellers from interstate 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 Annastascia Palaszczuk tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“A PCR test will no longer be required. More details in our morning media conference.”
Queensland’s tough testing regime has come under fire, particularly from NSW.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet begged the Queensland government to ease border entry requirements.
Visitors to Queensland had required a negative PCR test within 72 hours of coming to the state.
Mr Perrottet said the “tourism testing” had clogged an overwhelmed testing system.
Thousands of travellers only added to massive testing queues, waiting for hours to be swabbed.
Wait times for results are even longer, with the usual 24-hour turnaround blowing out to five days in some cases.
“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.
However, the test kits are in short supply in NSW, with residents reporting they are impossible to buy.
Queensland’s testing change comes a day after scrapping the controversial day five PCR tests which authorities conceded wasn’t “contributing in any way” to keeping the community safe.
Of the tens of thousands of travellers who have crossed state lines since the Queensland border reopened, only 0.6 per cent have recorded a positive result in the day five test.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said on Tuesday scrapping the PCR tests will allow Queensland Health resources to be “better used” elsewhere — including testing those who have been exposed to a known infection.
“It is not contributing in any way to the safety of Queenslanders and that resource can be used better elsewhere.”