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Cook Islands travel bubble to open 17 May, Jacinda Ardern announces

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By MiNDFOOD

| May 3, 2021

Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will begin from Monday, 17 May, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

Speaking at a post-cabinet briefing at 4pm, Ardern says the announcement of the travel bubble is a “significant step” for both countries’ COVID-19 recovery.

“It will mean 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,” she said.

Ardern says the health and safety of the Cook Islands people remains paramount.

If there is an outbreak in New Zealand, travel will be paused. If an outbreak occurs in the Cook Islands, New Zealand will provide humanitarian support to ensure the safe return of New Zealanders.

New Zealand is supplying enough Pfizer vaccines for the entire Cook Islands population, with vaccine rollout expected to begin this month.

“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,” said Jacinda Ardern.

In late March, Cook Island Prime Minister Mark Brown visited New Zealand to work out the details of the quarantine-free travel arrangement.

“The confirmation of 17 May for the commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand is the result of our uncompromising commitment to ensuring all necessary health and border measures are instituted to the highest standards of protection against COVID-19 prior to commencement,” PM Brown said.

The announcement comes two weeks after the opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia.

The announcement is welcome news for the Cook Islands tourism sector, as many businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“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 Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health.”

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