Monday, 22 November 2021

NSW-Qld Border Zone to open up for cross-border travel by all zone residents from 17 December 2021 - with conditions

Tweed Daily News online, 19 November 2021:

As of December 17, anyone entering Queensland from a declared hot spot will be required to have a border pass, be fully vaccinated and have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours.

NSW, Victoria and the ACT are currently considered hot spots by Queensland.

Medicare covers the costs of a Covid-19 test for anyone experiencing symptoms however the tests are not covered for travel purposes.

Residents who live in the border zone, which extends south to the Clarence Valley and out to the western boundary of NSW, are permitted to cross into Queensland for work and volunteering with a single vaccine jab requirement.

NED-4769 Queensland's Roadmap to Freedom

Crossing is also permitted for health, essential shopping and providing care for border zone residents.

However it remains unclear how the negative Covid-19 test will be feasible for border residents, especially the estimated 16,000 who cross daily for work.

Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish said he had repeatedly requested advice on the expected conditions for cross border residents regarding the issues.

The Queensland Government is yet to provide that advice,” Mr McTavish said.

We’d like to see full vaccinated people exempted from the testing requirement entirely if they are from the border region.

If the testing regime is enforced, it should be free for border residents.”

He said advice was also sought about how the Queensland Government planned to manage traffic and conditions ahead of the 80 per cent mark.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said there would be a border zone in place to ensure all border zone residents, regardless of vaccination status, could continue to enter Queensland for essential purposes once the border opened in December, without the need to meet the traveller testing requirements.

There may be less testing requirements for fully vaccinated people entering the border zone or entering Queensland from the border zone for non-essential reasons,” she said.

We are continuing to work through the specific requirements for the 80 per cent vaccination milestone.

Detailed information will be made public when available.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was questioned in parliament on Thursday night about residents being asked to fork out $150 for a Covid-19 test and why the state would not cover the cost.

These are really strict requirements and I make no apology for them being strict because we are keeping Queenslanders safe,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Acting chief health officer Peter Aitken on Friday said it would be a challenge to force Queensland visitors to fork out $150 for a Covid-19 test.

Dr Aitken said health authorities were considering scrapping the requirement or making the test free.

We recognise that... enormous challenge for people, for police, and it’s a discussion we’re having as to ensuring that double-vaccinated people have greater access,” he said.