Prime Minister Mark Brown, who is also Minister for Police, inspects the members of Cook Islands Police Service during his first official parade yesterday, before attending the final Parliament sitting for the year. Report on the parade on page 3. Photo: LOSIRENE LACANIVALU. 20112720
The country’s ongoing response to Covid-19 was front and centre at the last Parliament sitting for the year.
to the Covid-19 Amendment Bill (2) 2020 will ensure that every possible measure
is taken so the pandemic never enters the country, Minister of Health
Vainetutai Rose Toki Brown said during her presentation of the amended bill.
not the first time the bill has been amended and probably won’t be the last,
however there is a need to make changes due to the nature of coronavirus, Brown
time round, amendments include extending the lifespan of the bill until July
of the bill pertaining to stricter border controls from all ports of entry both
air and sea, physical distancing and other preventative measures such as the
wearing of face masks to keep people safe and stronger enforcement of
disciplinary actions like fines and imprisonment for those who break the rules
were also included.
are measures to ensure this pandemic never enters our country. We all
understand the responsibility is on all of us to protect our country from
Covid,” Brown said.
Parliament’s sitting, Solicitor General Stuart Baker held meetings with Cabinet
Ministers and the Opposition Democratic Party MPs to explain the amendments
that had been made.
Covid-19 Amendment Bill (2) 2020 was passed unanimously, but not without
questions being raised about the lifting of 14-day supervised quarantine.
of Parliament from the Pa Enua were particularly concerned.
Ivirua Agnes Armstrong said while she supported the amendments to the bill, she
was disappointed when the quarantine was lifted.
the vulnerability of our health systems and limited resources in Mangaia and
other Pa Enua, there is real concern,” she said. Terepai Maoate said the
Aitutaki community shared the same concerns and he had discussions with staff
members from Te Marae Ora who didn’t believe the Cook Islands is ready if there
was a case of coronavirus.
Matavera Vaitoti Tupa said he supported the amended bill and all its
will bring comfort to our people when this is passed.”
the reading of the bill, question time during Parliament’s sitting was also
dominated by a number of queries from the Opposition party relating to the
lifting of 14-day supervised quarantine. Ngatangiia MP Tamaiva Tuavera, posed a
question to the Prime Minister and asked if the country’s precautions are in
step with New Zealand’s, why do they still have mandatory quarantine.
understand that to mean we do what New Zealand does? Therefore, New Zealand
still has 14-day quarantine in place. Why have we lifted the 14-day
quarantine?” Tuavera said.
Minister Mark Brown offered further clarification.
comes to the assessment of the Cook Islands border, we look very closely at the
situation in New Zealand,” he said. “New Zealand is the only port of entry to
our country via Auckland, we have closed entry from Los Angeles, French
Polynesia and Australia.”
present, the status in New Zealand is level one, where there is no community
transmission and Cabinet is “satisfied that the risk is low”.
there was a community Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland in August, Cabinet
immediately imposed quarantine, Brown said.
that time New Zealand proved to be one of the world’s foremost on how to
contain and manage this virus.”
Prime Minister said his Cabinet takes seriously the decisions they make in
regards to lifting supervised quarantine.
is no way we would make a decision that puts our people at risk,” he said.
why with the passing of this particular bill, we can look forward to the next
few months over the Christmas and New Year period with hope and optimism rather
than fear and panic.”
Parliament yesterday also granted an extension of six months to select
committees responsible for Crimes Bill, To Tatou Vai Authority Bill and
Agriculture Bill before the House was adjourned sine dine.