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Easing Covid restrictions

Saturday 2 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, National

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Easing Covid restrictions
Cook Islands Red Cross Society officer Ty Connal was relieved and happy to be back at work yesterday after getting a Green Freedom Pass. MELINA ETCHES/22040125

Government has started issuing Essential Worker Pass and Post Covid Freedom Pass in a bid to take pressure off the local workforce.

With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, and the increasing number of people in isolation, enabling the essential workers pass is critical, says Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Rebecca Tavioni.

As of 8am yesterday morning, 2118 positive cases were recorded with 1396 recovered and 722 currently active cases. In addition, there are 977 household contacts in quarantine – these are the ones testing negative but in quarantine.

On Rarotonga, a number of businesses are struggling with the spread of the virus with many shutting doors or drastically reducing their services.

To ease the burden on local workforce, Prime Minister Mark Brown said they’re giving out purple Essential Worker Pass for those in quarantine but test negative, to allow them to go to work.

As of 6pm yesterday, 160 purple Essential Worker Pass cards had been issued.

“But a reminder that the worker pass only allows you go to work not to go out and about. There are certain conditions that need to be met. So let’s not abuse this pass.”

People can make an application online via web link on the Cook Islands Covid-19 website. Or, if they need more information or would prefer a manual application, they can contact Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI), who are based at the Office of the Prime Minister.

All applications for the Essential Worker Pass will be processed by EMCI and approved applications will be sent directly to the applicant. EMCI will also organise seven days’ worth of RAT tests to go with the essential worker pass.

Tavioni said: “The Chamber alongside other key stakeholders has provided input to TMO on the Essential Workers response, which enables organisations and businesses identified as Essential Services in the Essential Services and Restrictions Policy 2021 to continue working within approved guidelines, this includes the worker testing negative each day and being asymptomatic.”

PM Brown said the Green Freedom Pass was also available for those who have recovered from Covid-19.

“Contact your Puna to get yours so that you will no longer need to get tested,” he said.

“One thing we are discussing now is to allow green card holders to be able to travel to the Pa Enua because they are not infectious and are not a risk of being a carrier of the virus. Hopefully we can put this into practice next week.”

Cook Islands Red Cross Society officer Ty Connal was relieved and happy to be back at work yesterday after getting the Green Freedom Pass.

Asymptomatic, Connal had tested positive for Covid last Wednesday. “I had no symptoms at all and I was fine for the duration (seven days) of the isolation and I’m lucky I live on the beach.”