Motorbike helmet retailers are bracing for a rush of sales.
The new law requiring all motorbike riders and their passengers to wear approved helmets comes into force on June 26.
There are concerns about whether the local market will be able to meet the demand: a leading supplier revealed uncertainty over securing the stock they ordered “sometime ago”.
Don Carlaw, managing director of Raromart Megastore, said they had ordered more than 800 approved helmets from China.
But with freight affected by the Covid-19 crisis, Carlaw said he was not sure whether the shipment would arrive in time.
The helmets they’ve ordered from China have been approved by Cook Islands Police as conforming to the new safety standards.
“We have been informed that by the 14th of this month the order will be ready. Once we receive the bill of lading then we will have an idea through Matson by when the stock is expected to arrive into the Cook Islands,” Carlaw said.
“There is so much going on with this coronavirus and these are things beyond our control. Once we get an update from our suppliers and get an indication as to when we will get the shipment then we will go to police and update them accordingly.
“It could take as long as two months after it leaves China but then again we can’t have a definite answer at the moment with everything going around.”
Raromart is asking customers to secure their helmets by depositing $20.
There will be two models available at their store – Model 708 for $69.50 and Model 819 for $89.50. The helmets will be available from extra-small to extra-large sizes and in a range of colours. Carlaw said more than 100 customers had already put their names down.
“We are putting the minimum margin on this, knowing it’s hard for people to afford things at this stage. At the moment we don’t have any stock available at our store.”
There is some stock available at Cook Islands Motor Centre and Pickering Motors.
Teariki Pennycook, the general manager of the Motor Centre, said they had Australia and New Zealand-certified helmets at their Panama outlet.
“We bought a bit of stock prior to the law coming into effect. We have stock available but after the law was passed we ordered more. Obviously the lockdown took place in New Zealand and we were not able to get the supplies but we will have them here in June,” Pennycook said.
Cook Islands Police said any motorcyclist, or their passenger, caught driving without an approved safety helmet after June 26 will be subject to a $250 fine. Their helmet must be strapped on and free from damage. A police officer may ask to inspect it.
Police are also asking motorcyclists to ensure they obtain one in plenty of time before the law takes effect.
Spokesperson Trevor Pitt said they have been to local suppliers and advised them of the standards of safety helmets required under the law. “It is against the law to import non-standard helmets,” Pitt said.
The safety helmets must comply with one or more approved international standards – Australian, New Zealand, Europe, British and Japan Industrial Standard.