Domestic travel is opening t0 Queensland, with rapid antigen tests and border pass requirements to enter the state completely scrapped. 

Queensland PM Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the changes to the media on Thursday, January 13th. She confirmed that from 1am on Saturday, January 15th, “the borders will be coming down.” From that time, anyone arriving domestically into the state – by road or by air – will no longer have to show a border pass or a negative rapid antigen test.

The decision was made as Queensland grows closer to reaching the 90% double dose vaccination rate, which they expect to hit by the close of next week. Nothing has changed for international travel though. Palaszczuk’s government is still committed to waiting until the 90% double dose vaccination rate is achieved before opening this up.

“The changes to the border passes from 1am on Saturday reflects the change of cases across Australia,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath explained.

“It was important throughout 2021 that we controlled those people coming from hotspot (areas) and have restrictions around that …(but) that is becoming less important by the day because this virus could be in any jurisdiction with anyone travelling, whether they are coming from hot spot or not.”

She continued: “We don’t want to spend our time looking at whether we need to be declaring and changing hot spots. We should assume that anyone travelling around Australia domestically could have the virus and so it is a lot less important to worry about where people are coming from around Australia and much more important about where they are going.”

The removal of border checkpoints means that police will be able to focus more on the expected COVID-19 peak. “Since the establishment of the first border checkpoint in March 2020, this has been a significant operation for the Queensland Police service,” police commissioner Katarina Carroll said.

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“Protecting our borders have been incredibly important in preventing the spread of Covid-19. The evidence clearly shows you that when we shut the borders, we actually shut the spread. This change from 1am … will enable us to reprioritise, get back to business as usual and make sure the now we prepare for the peak over the next couple of weeks.”

For more on this topic, follow the Travel Observer.

Watch Queensland PM Annastacia Palaszczuk’s full COVID-19 press conference: