Australia How do you qualify for an exemption to leave a COVID hotspot?
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Authorities are investigating how two COVID-positive Melburnians could make their way into Queensland during a Victorian lockdown, prompting questions about who is allowed to travel from a hotspot and in what circumstances.
Queensland eased restrictions on Victoria overnight, but Greater Melbourne remains a hotspot.
Travel exemptions are possible, but only for specific reasons and might still require quarantine.
Here's how that looks at the moment:
Can you enter Queensland from Victoria during a lockdown?
No, unless you qualify for an exemption or you're a returning Queenslander.
Since May 28, all of Victoria was declared a COVID-19 hotspot by the Queensland government.
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Any Queenslanders who have been in Victoria since May 11 must spend a mandatory 14 days in government-arranged accommodation upon returning to Queensland.
Theafter driving out of Melbourne on June 1 might have been eligible to apply for a border exemption.
They travelled through central western NSW before crossing into Queensland at Goondiwindi on June 5.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said she wasn't aware if the couple had an exemption to travel or a travel declaration.
"I understand the husband, was he with a new job," Ms D'Ath said.
"We know that that is one of the grounds that people can travel due to work commitments, but I don't have enough detail."
"As we know, if people do get an exemption to travel, they are required to quarantine."
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Work must be classified as essential to be eligible for exemption.
If they were relocating to Queensland they could also enter, but would be expected to quarantine for 14 days at their own cost.
Under Victorian restrictions, people have been allowed to break restrictions to move house.
A Victorian could also enter Queensland for shared parenting obligations, essential health care, to support a person receiving essential health care or to participate in a state or federal law investigation.
Can Victorians cross their state border?
Restrictions are easing, but anybody living in Greater Melbourne is currently only allowed to travel 25 kilometres from home.
People living in regional Victoria can freely move around outside Greater Melbourne, but may not enter the capital unless it is for work, education, care or compassionate reasons.
It's not expected that Queensland will remove its hotspot declaration of Greater Melbourne, though from 1:00am Friday Victorians outside of Greater Melbourne are free to come to the sunshine state without restriction or quarantine.
Commonwealth withdraws COVID-19 disaster payments in Victoria as hotspot declaration ends
Melbourne residents will no longer have access to federal COVID-19 emergency payments after the Commonwealth withdrew its hotspot declaration.The city's two-week lockdown will lift at midnight, but Greater Melbourne will still be subjected to a range of restrictions, including the continued closure of some businesses.
New South Wales is expected to require Victorians to complete a NSW entry declaration and follow stay-at-home rules for 14 days after leaving Victoria.
When the couple left Melbourne on June 1, restrictions were in place that limited travel to 5 kilometres from home, but those rules have since eased.
Were the couple less infectious while travelling?
According to Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, serology testing indicated the couple were at the "tail end" of their COVID-19 infection.
Infectious disease expert Nigel McMillan from Griffith University said when a person was infected with a virus, their immune system "kicks into action".
"Your antibodies, which are one of the primary mechanisms of protection, they will peak at about day 10 or so," Professor McMillan said.
"We know that if antibody levels are very high, you've been exposed to the virus for at least 10 days.
"The course of COVID-19 is around two weeks — 10 to 14 days — so if you have high antibodies you're likely to be at the latest stages of infection."
Professor McMillan said people who are infected would still typically feel symptoms around day five but could be infectious from day three — and be at their most infections from days seven to 10.
"The longer you've had it, the less infectious you become — but that also depends on what strain you have."
He said that while someone could be "less infectious", they could still pose a risk.
"Less infectious is not zero infectious, so it doesn't mean you shouldn't go and get tested," he said.
"You'd still take the precaution of isolation, and you need to make sure they're isolated until they become negative again for the virus."
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