The Australian Government has introduced measures under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to prohibit price gouging and impose restrictions on the improper export of rapid antigen tests (RAT).
These measures are consistent with those implemented for masks, other personal protective equipment in March 2020 and have been actioned on the advice of the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly and following consultation with State and Territory Governments through the National Cabinet.
The measures will be in place from Saturday 8 January 2022 at 1:00am (AEDT) and will remain in place until 17 February 2022.
These measures will prevent people who have purchased RAT’s at retail settings to on-sell them at extortionate prices, which is assessed at more than 120 per cent more than the price for which they were purchased.
A person must also not export a COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit from Australia, unless a valid exception applies.
People found to be engaged in price gouging or unlawfully exporting RAT kits will be required to surrender those kits to law enforcement agencies or Customs officials for destruction or redistribution to the National Medical Stockpile as appropriate.
Penalties for failing to comply with the new requirements include up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $66,600, or both.
In addition to the measures outlined above, the Government is working with the pharmacy sector and major retailers to prevent hoarding and bolster the supply of RAT kits by limiting the number of tests people can buy at any one time.
PCR and RAT testing for COVID-19 remains free for people who are suspected to have COVID-19 or who are close contacts, through Government run testing clinics.
To support the high number of tests currently being undertaken; the Commonwealth Government has secured more than 70 million rapid antigen tests which will arrive throughout this month and the next. Together with these new measures, in addition to private market supply, this will ensure a steady supply of RAT kits for Australians.