As the first group of 129 Cook Islanders was heading out of supervised quarantine and back to the comfort of their own homes on Friday, another 29 returning Cook Islanders were flying into Rarotonga.
The first group of returning Cook Islanders finally got to go home yesterday morning, after spending two weeks in supervised quarantine at the Edgewater Resort.
It was hugs, kisses and laughter all around at Krissy Lewis’ place.
Lewis and her son Maui Tatum, were happy and relaxed to be in their own home, soon after their early morning departure from the quarantine facility.
Her mother Ake prepared for their return with freshly-cut flowers, tivaevae cushions and a specially ordered patched quilt for her grandson. “They are finally here, safe and looking good, so I’m sure things will quickly get back to normal for all of us,” Ake said.
Maui is ready to see his friends and get back into normal life.
“I can’t wait to catch up with my mates, hit the beach, go snorkelling, surfing and see the turtles,” Maui said.
The two have endured a total of seven weeks in quarantine, culminating in the last 14 days at the Edgewater.
Also going home was Ipu Pierre Tutangata, who was delighted to kiss and cuddle her grandchildren after several months.
Her daughter Melinda said it was such a surreal feeling to have their mum back home.
“Our kids have been counting down the days since she landed in Raro, and was undertaking 14 days of quarantine,” she said.
“The girls even begged to stay home from school in case they missed her arrival. We are so grateful that we have been reunited after all this time.”
For the 29 people flying into Rarotonga on Friday, the expressions of relief on their faces said it all.
This week’s returnees included former Minister of Health Nandi Glassie who was happy to be home.
There have been three planes and three different processes: Te Marae Ora along with airport staff and border agencies had refined arrival plans by the time the third group arrived.
Yesterday’s returnees were processed through the airport’s arrival gates. It almost resembled normality, with signs in the terminal advising about health precautions relating to Covid-19.
Three buses wanted outside the terminal ready to transport them to the Edgewater Quarantine facility.
Details of a fourth repatriation flight are still being finalised.
Nukutere College teacher Cassidy Jackson-Carroll said she had received an email from health secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman advising that she was in Auckland exploring options to safely ease border restrictions.
The process is complex, she said and requires several measures to be in place before any plans can be announced.
Jackson-Carroll said she is more than willing to wait. “As long as I’m on a flight of return at some stage,” she said.