Prime Minister Mark Brown welcomed to New Zealand by Minister Jacinda Ardern in March. PHOTO: RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF
Sources are speculating an upcoming announcement could see either a date set for a travel bubble with New Zealand or solid plans put in place for a Covid-19 vaccination programme, but the Government is staying tight-lipped for now.
Following media speculation in New Zealand,
Cook Islands News has learnt government is preparing for an imminent
announcement on opening the border.
Sources within and close to the government
have told this newspaper that officials are planning to make an announcement on
Sunday afternoon, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds a
When asked for details, a Cook Islands
government official said: “It is hoped a joint announcement will be made
shortly to update information regarding quarantine free travel.”
“The day and time is yet to be confirmed.”
Private Sector Taskforce chair Fletcher Melvin
said he was told by a government source the border could be opened to Kiwi
travellers around May 15.
He speculated any announcement could also
concern a Covid-19 vaccination programme, which Prime Minister Mark Brown has
targeted to begin in May.
“If it’s going to be a bubble opening
announcement, the private sector will be relieved,” said Melvin.
This week, government ministries and agencies
were working at pace to have systems in place for two-way, quarantine-free
travel with New Zealand.
When asked, one staff member of Te Marae Ora
(TMO) Ministry of Health described the preparations as “hectic”.
A team from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health
is currently in Rarotonga for two weeks to assist the health ministry with
health readiness planning.
A PCR lab, which is central to mass testing
capabilities for Covid-19, is expected to be in operation during the second
week of May, and TMO staff have been conducting training on contact tracing.
It is understood PM Brown was delivered a
final assessment of readiness from government’s border easement taskforce on
PM Ardern told Newshub more information on the
matter will be revealed next week. "Whilst we haven't made announcements
today we will have more to say next week,” she was reported as saying on
Air New Zealand’s website currently has seats
for sale on flights to Rarotonga as of May 10.