This weekend, the government described it as “shutting down the borders” to the Pa Enua. Yesterday, that mechanism was clarified as a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who wished to travel to Aitutaki or any of the other outer islands.
“People understand that protecting the elderly who are highly at risk and our population is paramount, and we only have limited hospital resources here,” said Gill Vaiimene, President of Elderbility on Mangaia
Cabinet decided at the weekend to essentially close off the outer islands to most travel, to provide remote havens that Covid-19 will not reach.
“No one is actually complaining here; however, people are facing huge upheavals reconsidering their overseas travel plans for family events,” said Vaiimene.
“What people are anxious about are the details. For instance, if they are self-quarantined in New Zealand, do they need to do this again on Rarotonga before flying home?”
“Although people are dumbfounded at the effect it’s going to have to the island, they recognise it is for the best,” she added.
Fellow Mangaia resident Fiona Papatua-Hailes said the self-quarantine rules for all persons travelling to the Pa Enua were necessary to protect the vulnerable population on the islands.
“Ideally the borders should be shut to tourists and not the locals, but we do come into contact with visitors when we are here on Rarotonga,” she said.
“So, in saying that, we, all of us should undergo the processes directed, to safe guard our people in the Pa Enua.”
All passengers flying to the Pa Enua will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to travel, effective from Friday, March 21.
This restriction includes Pa Enua residents who are on Rarotonga or are overseas, and want to return to their home island.
This self-quarantine will be supervised, to avoid any risk of “contaminating the Pa Enua population”.
Medical clearances will be issued to passengers before boarding Air Rarotonga. “Te Marae Ora will be responsible for the passenger checks before departure,” said health spokeswoman Jaewynn McKay.
Air Rarotonga managing director Ewan Smith is awaiting clarification of these restrictions. “We understand what is required but need details on how this will be implemented,” he said.
Cargo arriving via ships and aircraft to the Pa Enua will not be affected.