Prime Minister Henry Puna announced re-opening of schools, churches, restaurants and cafes and lifted travel restriction to the Pa Enua. Restrictions on the sale of alcohol is under review.
Scott Arlander, the owner of Rehab Nightclub, said it’s good to see that some restrictions have been relaxed.
Arlander said if there continues to be no confirmed cases on the island and the borders remain closed, they should be able to re-open.
“We understand and appreciate the safety measures government has put in place to protect our people against Covid-19. Currently we are making use of the closure to catch up with maintenance and possibly some renovations,” Arlander said.
“We are grateful for the business grant and wage subsidy, but they will only take us so far as we have zero income with our business closed.”
Prime Minister Henry Puna indicated it was too early to make a decision on the reopening of the nightclubs and bars.
“The risk with that is the medevac facilities, because when we reopen the bars and nightclubs invariably you are going to expect accidents and because of the restrictions at the moment we only get one flight a week so those issues come into play,” Puna said.
Fletcher Melvin, from the Private Sector Taskforce, said with Cook Islands officially declared Covid-19 free, “it’s the right time to reassess the rules and restrictions”.
Melvin, who is also the president of the Chamber of Commerce, said there would be discussions about alcohol licences.
“The ability to serve alcohol is a make or break issue for many hospitality businesses and we'll continue to advocate strongly in that area.”
Melvin said it has been an anxious time for business owners and employers – many of whom have not been able to operate for weeks.
“With official blessing, we can get back into our shops and kitchens, open up the shutters and start to rebuild. It gives us assurance and certainty about what we can do and allows us to make tentative plans for a new future. We have to start to rebuild our local economy first, so when we open up our borders again we're able to take the next step.”
Melvin also said businesses support the public health measures that have been put in place to keep the country safe.
He said they were encouraged by Health secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman’s commitment to opening up economy in a controlled way.
“We’ll continue to work closely with Te Marae Ora to ensure businesses are aligned with public health measures.”