Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has called on state premiers to drop COVID PCR testing requirements for domestic travel, ahead of easing state border restrictions.
Over the last few weeks, each state has revealed its roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions and border closures.
Many states, including Queensland and Western Australia, have stipulated that once hard borders come down, travellers will not only need to be fully vaccinated to cross state lines, but also provide a negative PCR COVID test within three days of travel.
Joyce called on states to drop such testing requirements, in light of Australia’s incredibly high vaccination rate.
“Australia is on track to have one of the highest vaccine rates of any country in the world and that gives us a lot of reassurance that we can open safely, and stay open,” Joyce said, speaking at the Qantas AGM on Friday.
“There will still be challenges – but we are investing in the restart because we have every confidence that the only way is forward,” he said.
“One of those challenges is a patchwork of entry conditions nationwide. Each time borders closed over the past 18 months, different states had different rules. Unfortunately, we’re seeing the same thing as we reopen.
“That is frustrating for vaccinated travellers who would reasonably expect they can move freely and easily.
“Hopefully, these conditions – particularly PCR testing at every turn – is dispensed with as Australia becomes more confident living with COVID. Surely that’s something we’ve all earned.”
It comes as Australia hit its 80 per cent vaccination target throughout the country on Saturday.
On Friday, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced he will reopen his state’s borders to NSW, Victoria and overseas travellers once the vaccination rate in WA reaches 90 per cent in people aged 12 and over – expected in January or February next year.
At that point, all travellers into the state will need to be fully vaccinated and return a negative COVID PCR test 72 hours prior to departure. Arrivals will also need to perform a second PCR test within 48 hours of entering WA.
Meanwhile, the Tasmanian government announced that from 15 December, travellers from high-risk areas, including NSW, Victoria and ACT, will be required to provide a negative COVID test in the 72 hours prior to travel, however fully vaccinated arrivals from low-risk states will not face any testing requirements.
Last month, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that both the state’s domestic and international borders will reopen by Christmas, however they will also continue to impose PCR testing requirements on fully vaccinated interstate arrivals.
On Friday, Victoria and NSW both dropped their border restrictions between the country’s two most populous states, which now allows free movement for fully vaccinated travellers with no testing requirements.