Scott Morrison has welcomed Queensland’s “commonsense” backflip after dozens of Covid-19-exposed plane passengers faced Christmas in isolation.
Covid-19 alerts were on Tuesday night issued for VA1105 from Newcastle to Brisbane and VA375 from Brisbane to Townsville, with all passengers deemed close contacts and ordered to isolate for 14 days regardless of negative test results or vaccination status.
But after widespread backlash, including from the Prime Minister on local radio, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed on Wednesday that all passengers would be classified as casual contacts and would only need to isolate until they returned a negative test result.
The exception are those passengers who sat close to the positive case, who will be clarified close contacts and spend 14 days isolating.
Speaking from Brisbane’s west, Mr Morrison said he was “pleased” that some “common sense has been applied to this issue”.
“I raised it on Brisbane radio this morning, and I urged the government to ensure that they found a way to get these Australians to be with their loved ones at Christmas,” he said.
“I welcome some movements on this. Let’s not forget in NSW and Victoria it’s seven days with testing, so I would encourage them to take that up.
“Queensland is moving to that in just a few weeks anyway, and I think it is very upsetting for their families and it creates uncertainty too.”
Earlier, Ms D’Ath said the initial response to the flight scare was because the case was potentially Omicron and authorities still didn’t know enough about the variant.
“(But) I’ve been advised this morning that the chief health officer and the deputies have reviewed that we can apply the normal rules in relation to these flights and we don’t need to wait until we get the findings of whether it’s Omicron because, if it is, we still will apply these rules,” she said.
Mr Morrison, who was listed as a casual contact after an event in Sydney last week and has entered Queensland after receiving two negative test results, said he wanted to give Queensland’s tourism industry some certainty.
“You’ve had to wait long enough to see your visitors again,” he said.
“I don’t want to see the way we respond to the opening up – and there’s a few teething problems, we understand that and what the intention is – but we must make sure we get it right and that common sense prevails and we can connect Australians up again and we do that in a way that encourages more Australians to come here and to have that holiday that they’ve had booked for some time and they’re able to come up here and enjoy.
“There are so many families who come here at Christmas and I can imagine how shattered they were to hear they wouldn’t be with their families.
“Our medical advice in other states and territories means we can add a bit more common sense.”
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