New Zealand approves quarantine free travel to Cook Islands

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Flights to commence on May 17 subject to heath approval

Jacinda Ardern and Mark Brown (INL Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, May 4, 2021

The awaited quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Cook Islands may become a reality but the decision taken by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Cook Islands counterpart Mark Brown needs the approval of the Director General of Health and Secretary of Health in the respective countries.

Significant step

Ms Ardern said that the two way quarantine-free travel is a significant step in the recovery from Covid-19 and the successful response to the pandemic in both countries.

“It will mean that families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume and Kiwis can take a much-welcomed winter break and support the Cook Islands’ tourism sector and recovery. That we can take this step in our recovery so soon after opening the Trans-Tasman bubble highlights the benefits of our Covid-19 management, and the opportunities it is now providing New Zealand and our neighbours,” she said.

Describing the travel bubble as a ‘world-leading arrangement,’ she said that substantial work has been done to achieve it.

“The health and safety of the people of the Cook Islands has at all times been paramount. Vaccination, while not an answer on its own, will provide an added layer of protection once rolled out, and we continue to advance these plans alongside the Cook Islands. It is important to remember that many other countries still have travel bans in place,” Ms Ardern said.

Mr Brown said that the commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand is the result of ‘uncompromising commitment to ensure that all the necessary health and border measures have been instituted to the highest standards of protection against Covid-19 prior to commencement.”

Cook Islands- a favourite destination of New Zealanders (Picture from PlanetWare)

Elevated efforts

“Since my visit to New Zealand at the end of March, and various engagements with Prime Minister Ardern and members of her Cabinet, we have jointly elevated effort towards bolstering readiness and response capabilities against COVID-19 in preparation for the safe resumption of two-way quarantine-free travel between our countries,” he said.

According to him, the Trans-Tasman arrangement has been a model for the quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

“In close partnership with New Zealand, we are continuing to work through final details for the deployment of vaccines to the Cook Islands and expect to provide further details on the vaccine roll-out within the next week few weeks. I acknowledge with deepest gratitude our people’s continued trust in our leadership and whole of society endeavour to keep our people safe from the virus, and the incredible work of a steadfast team of committed officials working in close partnership with our community and industry and their New Zealand counterparts,” Mr Brown said.

Radio New Zealand has reported that the commencement of the bubble is subject to a final set of criteria being met, including airline and airport preparedness, all necessary protocols and frameworks being in place, and final sign off from the New Zealand Director General of Health and the Cook Islands Secretary of Ministry of Health.

Some inclusions and exclusions

Quarantine-free travel applies to all travellers in New Zealand and the Cook Islands who meet the eligibility requirements to travel.

Travellers must have been in Cook Islands or New Zealand for at least 14 days before travel. This means anyone keen on travelling between Australia and the Cook Islands should have spent at least 14 days in New Zealand in the middle.

No person who is unwell, waiting on a Covid-19 test, or in contact with anyone suspected to have Covid-19 will not be allowed to travel.

There is no requirement for a pre-departure Covid-19 test, but travellers must complete a travel declaration, provide a health declaration and be ready for random health checks at airports. 

Normal immigration rules for entry into each country will continue to apply. Travellers must check for updates constantly to understand any change in the situation affecting them

that means for their individual situation.

Flights will be operating as ‘Green,’ with measures in place as against ‘Red’ flights in and out of New Zealand where passengers must enter MIQ facilities.

For latest information on quarantine-free travel, including eligibility, what travellers should expect are available at www.covid19.govt.nz; www.covid19.gov.ck
The above story has been sponsored by

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