An Air NZ flight arrives at Rarotonga. Picture by Brent Hayden
Cook Islands Government has changed its stance on border reopening plans after announcing it would consider resuming quarantine free two-way travel with New Zealand “even if there are still Covid-19 cases in the community”.
this month, Prime Minister Mark Brown announced that the country would only
reopen its border to Kiwi visitors once the Government was fully confident
there was no more community transmission of Covid-19 in NZ.
on Saturday, Brown said the Government’s current thinking was that when all of
New Zealand moves to Alert Level 1, even if there are still Covid-19 cases in
the community, the Cook Islands could have a high degree of confidence from
this classification and should consider resumption of travel through that lens.
now, phased re-opening of the Cook Islands inwards border will continue to be
limited only to those visitors who have been in New Zealand for at least 14
days prior to travel, according to a statement from the Border Easement
Scott, the president of the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council, said:
“Industry is pleased that government is remaining flexible in times of border
access, and it makes sense to continue to revise its stance dependant on
developments in New Zealand – and the world for that matter.”
Sir John Key referred to NZ to living a ‘hermit kingdom’ and we need to ensure
we are not going down the same road where fear takes over our lives.
is already a massive amount of collateral damage caused by Covid-19 – mental
stress, worry and anxiety, business foreclosure, depopulation, unsustainable
debt and much more.”
the weekend former NZ prime minister Key wrote an op-ed, making three larger
points: The NZ Government needed a clearer plan to end restrictions, the
vaccine programme needed more carrots and sticks to encourage uptake, and New
Zealand had become a “smug hermit kingdom” – celebrating itself instead of
looking to the future.
Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins had an early chance to respond on Saturday, and
seized on the last point, saying it was an “insult to New Zealanders”. On the
other points, he basically said the Government agreed and was already doing
Scott said the objective of the Cook Islands government in the view of industry
“is to strategise and come up with ways of finding balance where we can learn
to manage and reduce the effects of negative medical outcomes, whilst still
factoring in that an economic decline in itself has an adverse effect on
health, and the relationship of the two co-exist”.
we do not have the luxury of other industries to fall back on. Tourism directly and indirectly contributes
towards 85 per cent of GDP, which makes us very vulnerable the longer the
border remains closed.”
his Saturday announcement, Prime Minister Brown said: “Although high
vaccination afforded an additional layer of protection, the Government would
continue to maintain border controls and public health measures to ensure any
outbreaks and swiftly contained and managed.”
He also thanked all Cook Islanders for their co-operation, patience and vigilance during these difficult times, with a reminder to adhere to the Alert Level 2 guidelines.