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Covid testing queues in North Melbourne.
Scott McNaughton, via the AgePeople queue outside the COVID-19 testing site on Alfred Street in North Melbourne.

Plan ahead: you could be waiting up to three hours for a Covid test today

As Melburnians rush to get PCR tests ahead of interstate travel, testing sites all over the state have reached capacity

Written by
Eliza Campbell

As national border restrictions have relaxed (with the exception of WA) many Melburnians have planned travel ahead of the Christmas break. Unless you're travelling to NSW, you'll need a negative PCR test to cross any borders – and that's within 72 hours prior to your arrival. These new domestic travel requirements have seen an unprecedented rush to Covid testing sites all over the city, which has led to waiting times soaring to three hours, with some people being turned away entirely. 

Despite three new testing sites opening over the weekend, demand has continued to overwhelm capacities, with some clinics temporarily shutting down to work through the existing backlog of test samples. Many Melburnians planning to be interstate before Christmas can't afford to wait until crowds die down to be tested, and with the weather reaching a high of 27 degrees on December 20 and 25 degrees on December 21, people are being encouraged to plan ahead for long waits in the sun. That means, sunscreen, plenty of water and snacks – and don't forget your Medicare card.

Drive through testing clinics will provide some relief from the heat, but be prepared for longer wait times than walk-through clinics. You can find your nearest drive-through testing site or walk-through testing site here. The Royal Children's Hospital also has a testing site set up exclusively for children, accessible at Entry 4, Flemington Road. You can complete a COVID-19 Testing Registration Form to help staff out and speed things along.

Confused about the interstate travel restrictions right now? We've broken it down into a state-by-state guide.

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