Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has apologised after a confusing week-long feud about the cost of PCR tests needed by travellers to enter the state.
Meanwhile, the state has reached another vaccine milestone, with more than 75 per cent of the eligible population now double-jabbed.
Under the state’s reopening plan vaccinated domestic arrivals need to provide a negative PCR test once 80 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated.
However, domestic travellers, tourism operators and airlines were in limbo for six days as the state and Commonwealth argued about who would fork out for the tests.
The spat ended on Tuesday when federal Health Minister Greg Hunt clarified tests for domestic travel would be free after the state confirmed it would accept a text message as proof of a result.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath, who has been off work sick this week, says she’s sorry about the uncertainty caused for travellers.
“I’m happy to apologise,” she told reporters on Friday.
“There was a lot of confusion around this. We’ve made it clear there isn’t a cost without needing a certificate, we don’t require the certificate.
“A text, which we have always said, a text is suitable. It’s been on our border pass systems since it went live at 70 per cent.
“I’m just pleased that people do not have to incur this cost. They can get the PCR test which is absolutely invaluable in stopping this virus coming into our state.”
Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said PCR tests were always provided to domestic travellers for free under co-funding arrangements.
However, he sidestepped a question about why he hadn’t advised the government about that during the PCR test brouhaha.
“Look, we’ve gone through this as the minister said, everyone’s been aware, we’ve told yourselves and the community, and rapid testing is available, and the Commonwealth has clarified any concerns or confusion,” he told reporters.
Queensland is on track to hit its 80 per cent vaccination target earlier than the December 17 deadline.
From that date, unvaccinated people will also be banned from venues across the state.
However, businesses are still waiting to see the public health orders explaining how the ban will work.
D’Ath promised that businesses would be provided with the full directions on the ban by December 10 at the latest.
“But I’m hoping much sooner than that,” she said.
“So we’re consulting across agencies right now on the draft direction and I hope that we can get that out to businesses as soon as possible.”
The latest figures show 85.57 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have received their first dose, while 8765 vaccines were administered in the last 24 hour recording period.
Queensland recorded no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with five active cases across the state.