Next steps for travel between NZ and Cook Islands
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown have agreed on an ‘Arrangement to Facilitate Quarantine-Free Travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand’.
Both Prime Ministers and their cabinets have instructed officials to continue working together to put in place all measures required to safely recommence two-way quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021.
“The Arrangement recognises the special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. It will allow people to travel more easily between our two countries, while acknowledging that the priority remains to protect our populations from COVID-19,” says Ardern.
In August, Ardern signalled a bubble will likely be opened with initial hopes that it would be by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Brown welcomes progress, noting that the free movement of people between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is central to the close relationship the two countries hold and integral to the Cook Islands’ recovery from COVID-19 impact.
“This Arrangement is the next step towards resuming many aspects of life in the Cook Islands that have been disrupted by COVID-19, including access to health and education, and reuniting family and friends,” says Brown.
Acknowledging the Cook Islands’ COVID-free status, New Zealand will work at pace to implement quarantine-free access for travellers from the Cook Islands to New Zealand as a first step in a phased approach to resumption of two-way quarantine free travel between the two nations.
“Quarantine-free access for travellers from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will provide for the movement of people for delivering and accessing essential services, while allowing officials to finalise preparations for a safe return to two-way quarantine-free travel,” says Ardern.