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ACT government testing sites to charge for tests required for travel | The Canberra Times


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Canberrans will be able to pay for COVID-19 tests required for travel at government-run clinics, after Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith was forced to backtrack on earlier advice. Ms Stephen-Smith told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday it was her understanding that government facilities would not undertake tests where people were required to pay. However, she was later forced to clarify the comments saying the government facilities would charge for tests in certain circumstances, including when people needed a negative result to travel. The ACT government offers free testing for people who have COVID-19 symptoms or for those who have been deemed close or casual contacts. But people have to pay for tests at government facilities when it is required for travel purposes. There was conflicting advice on whether the government would charge for tests, after some people reported being charged a $110 fee. Ms Stephen-Smith was asked about this fee in question time. “I’m going to take this question on notice because my understanding is that we’re not actually charging fees at free government testing sites,” she said. “And so I have heard this a number of times that people have been told that they can get their test result if they pay for it but that’s not the advice that I have received so I think there are some mixed messages here.” But after question time Ms Stephen-Smith informed the Assembly that the government would charge people for some tests. She said there had been some inconsistent advice about this and the government would seek to clear this up. The opposition slammed the Health Minister and claimed that Ms Stephen-Smith was caught out by the blunder. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: Opposition health spokeswoman Giulia Jones also questioned why the government could not offer the service cheaper. “Families wanting to travel at Christmas may have to get four or five of these tests just to get on a plane,” Mrs Jones said. “This is potentially another huge financial burden on Canberra families at this time of the year, after a very difficult lockdown period.” There has been a spike in testing demand in Canberra over recent weeks, which has been driven by an increase in nightclub exposure sites. The ACT reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday. There are six people in hospital because of COVID, three are in intensive care and two are being ventilated. Burgmann Anglican School became the latest school to be exposed to COVID-19, after a positive case attended the Forde campus on November 19 and 22. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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