AUTHORITIES in New South Wales and Queensland are opening freight-friendly COVID-19 testing stations as new cases persist and lockdowns continue.

In Sydney, the NSW government is opening its first dedicated COVID-19 testing site for freight workers on Saturday.

NSW minister for regional transport and roads Paul Toole said the site, in Wetherill Park, is in addition to the five sites already open along key fright routs across the state.

“The NSW government has been working closely with the freight industry, which is doing a phenomenal job to keep essential goods moving into our communities through this pandemic,” Mr Toole said.

“We know that heavy vehicles are not able to easily access the large majority of the current community testing locations, and these pop-up sites make it easier for our truckies to get tested and get back on the road.”

“With increased mandatory testing requirements in place for freight workers across multiple jurisdictions, we have seen unprecedented demand on our freight testing sites, so opening Sydney’s first site tomorrow will be very welcome news.”

NSW minister for transport and roads Andrew Constance said the Sydney site will provide operators with more choice as they carry out their essential work.

“The new Wetherill Park site will allow truck drivers safe and efficient access to COVID-19 tests which will help them remain safe as they move across the state,” Mr Constance said.

“This facility is a welcome addition to our already existing freight COVID-19 testing sites at key transport routes, as it will help support the freight industry comply with testing requirements.”

The site at 250 Victoria Street is open from 7am Saturday, 7 August and will be supported by pathology staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Testing sites in Queensland

Meanwhile, Queensland opened its second COVID-19 testing facility for truck drivers on Friday. The facility is west of Toowoomba and is to support freight and logistics drivers crossing the Queensland border.

The first freight-focused testing site opened at the Port of Brisbane on 30 July.

QLD transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said the temporary testing sites were needed to support the mandatory testing regime that came into effect on 30 July for freight and logistics drivers coming into Queensland and working around the state.

“Mandatory testing is vital to help stop the potential spread of COVID-19 and keep essential drivers, their families and their colleagues safe,” Mr Bailey said.

“These are challenging times for everyone and the freight industry has continued to step up to meet the additional requirements that have been asked of them since the pandemic began.

“The heavy vehicle industry ensures shop shelves remain stocked and lifesaving vaccines reach their destination, so I thank them for continuing to work with us to keep supply chains remain strong and goods flowing across our border.

Mr Bailey said QLD Transport and Main Roads has worked closely with QML Pathology, Queensland Health, the BP at Charlton and the Port of Brisbane Authority to provide truck-only, accessible, testing facilities.

“Thank you to the QML Pathology health professionals who are working tirelessly undertaking testing at these new sites seven days a week,” he said.

“I also thank the Port of Brisbane Authority for its work and cooperation so far as the site has seen 80 to 100 truck drivers COVID-19 tested each day since it opened, and to the Queensland Trucking Association for working with us to help meet the requirements of drivers and operators.”

Mr Bailey said there are also three heavy-vehicle testing sites open in Acacia Ridge, Boondall and Robina to test prime movers without trailers, light and heavy rigid trucks.

“We’re continuing to work with industry and pathology providers to identify more COVID-19 testing site options that are suitable for heavy vehicles,” he said.

“We expect to have a third dedicated facility up and running in north Brisbane early next week.”

Queensland Trucking Association, chief executive officer Gary Mahon said the opening of the dedicated truck-only testing facility at Charlton will provide much needed relief for drivers using this major freight route.

“We appreciate the response by Transport and Main Roads and QML to get this facility up and running,” he said.

“We know the pressure on drivers to comply with mandatory testing is rising, and the opening of this testing facility will be very much welcomed by the industry.

“We will continue to advocate for common sense solutions and support drivers to perform their essential role and keep freight moving around the country.”

Heavy vehicle drivers who have entered a declared COVID-19 hotspot or affected area are required to meet testing regimes under the Operational protocol for freight movements entering Queensland.

Mr Bailey said a class exemption was currently in place for freight and logistics operators entering Queensland with perishable goods or livestock until 1am on 9 August.

“We will keep working with industry to ensure freight operators transporting perishable products and livestock can keep supplies flowing across our borders,” he said.

“It is more important than ever to know exactly what is required, including the border passes and documentation heavy vehicle drivers need to enter Queensland.”

A dedicated hotline, 134 COVID (134 268), has been set up to assist with Queensland enquiries.