Unsure of the COVID rules at the Queensland border this Christmas? The same is the Queensland government

When economists want to change people’s behavior, they put a price on it. That’s why cigarettes cost $ 50 a day. package, and the state government has handed out $ 100 holiday coupons.

It is also an indication of what will happen when the state reaches the 80 percent vaccination milestone, which is expected somewhere between 6 and 12 December.

To enter the state from a hotspot and avoid hotel quarantine, you must be fully vaccinated and produce a negative COVID test.

If you say you’re not showing symptoms of COVID, the test is not covered by Medicare, so you’ll have to lower the full amount – about $ 150.

Some potential tourists may lie and say they are symptomatic of avoiding paying the fee (illustrating the point that price influences behavior), but let’s give Australians the benefit of the doubt and assume everyone is honest.

There is also a large dispensation for residents in the border zone. They do not need a test, not even those who are unvaccinated, if they cross the line for “essential purposes” such as work, medical care or grocery shopping.

What about things that are not “essential”? Or other Queensland residents who might want to skip the border for a weekend in Byron Bay, for example?

The 80 percent rule means they will have to get a $ 150 COVID test in Byron and hope to get the result back in time for the return trip.

Queensland Health is now pumping the brakes and is considering tinkering with the plan.

“There may be fewer test requirements for fully vaccinated people entering the border zone or entering Queensland from the border zone for non-essential reasons,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Acting head of health Peter Aitken was more explicit about the possibilities when he was asked at a media conference last Friday.

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“There may be no test, it could be a free trial. We do not know at the moment. We are talking to New South Wales, talking to other colleagues and we will notify you when there is a decision,” he said.

If you are making travel plans, keep in mind that things can change prior to a border opening that may be just a few days away.

Then there is the impact on potential tourists coming to Queensland. An intergovernmental family of four who might be considering taking their kids to Sea World this Christmas should now have COVID tests worth $ 600 on their budget (this includes everyone in the family a year and older).

If the Queensland government hoped that its latest Holiday Dollars campaign – which included $ 100 travel vouchers for the Gold Coast – would be an incentive to travel, then it is reasonable that a $ 150 COVID test would be an obstacle to choosing Queensland as destination.

The deputy admits “it would be a consideration” for tourists, but said he did not apologize for demanding the test. He then called for the tests to be free.

“I would urge the Commonwealth to consider that these tests are part of our broader health response and are therefore eligible for a Medicare rebate,” he said.

Maybe the government had planned to make this request for a while, but it worked without any problems. But an hour later, when we asked the same question to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon on the Gold Coast, it now seemed like a government position.

“I certainly think the Commonwealth should make it more accessible for people to get these PCR tests,” Ms Scanlon said.

The dismissal from Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt’s office came late in the day.

“The Commonwealth funds 100 percent of Medicare-funded tests and 50 percent of state-based tests. It’s a surprise that Queensland is seeking to move away from their responsibilities and their own decision and reduce their own COVID security spending,” a spokesman said.

In short, each site has decided that it is not in their job description to pay for your vacation COVID test. Let’s see what behavior comes from that decision.

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