Passengers given green light to travel to Rarotonga

Monday 22 February 2021 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Local, National


Passengers given green light to travel to Rarotonga

Government has decided to resume incoming passenger travel from Auckland to Rarotonga despite a new Covid-19 community case in New Zealand Sunday.

A full flight is expected from Auckland tomorrow after government lifted travel restrictions on incoming passengers.

Last week government did not allow passengers on two Air New Zealand flights to Rarotonga after new Covid-19 community cases in Auckland.

Yesterday the NZ Health ministry confirmed an eighth person had tested positive for Covid-19. The new community case was linked to the existing Auckland February cases and the person has been in quarantine since Friday.

Despite a new community case, the Cook Islands Cabinet, who met yesterday, approved the recommendations of Te Marae Ora, Cook Islands Ministry of Health to resume incoming passenger travel from Auckland to Rarotonga. The passengers are not required to quarantine on arrival.

The usual entry requirements remain in place for Cook Islanders and work and residence permit holders.

All passengers will be required to obtain a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure from Auckland. Arriving passengers will also be required to undertake a Covid-19 test on day six after their return to the Cook Islands.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said he had confidence in the New Zealand systems and testing and contact tracing regime. Cabinet noted the situation in Auckland regarding the latest outbreak and were encouraged by the latest test findings and were in full support of the Te Marae Ora recommendations. 

“The advice Te Marae Ora provided Cabinet complements a statement from the NZ Ministry of Health this afternoon, ‘due to the steps already taken identifying, testing, and tracing individuals linked to the February cases, … the public health risk is considered very low’.”

Incoming passengers stranded in Auckland were thrilled to hear the news.

Tony Fe’ao, who travelled to Auckland for medical reasons, said he was prepared for the worst.

“I trust that our government will make the best calls for the safety of our island.”

Rebecca Tavioni, who travelled with her husband and three children to visit their families in New Zealand, said: “Hearing that we will be able to travel home on Tuesday is the best thing we could’ve hoped to hear this week!”

“We left home eager to travel to NZ and all that comes with it only to find a greater appreciation and love for our paradiso. I don’t think we will travel again for some time knowing that we may struggle to return again in future.”

Tavioni and her family, who were scheduled to return home last week, had to do Covid-19 testing four times.

“The testing for Covid is more invasive than any of us initially thought. The procedure itself is painful for the children, after the first test they cried the entire car ride home.

“In total we have been tested four times, the kids would all erupt into tears and genuine fear when we arrived for our subsequent tests, they didn’t understand why we had to keep enduring these procedures to the point of crying to stay in NZ in an attempt to avoid the ‘nose test’. This is the key reason why I will not travel with them again for some time to come.”

Meanwhile Auckland moved to alert level 1 at midnight last night.

Eight cases that had recently emerged had all been linked and close contacts of the mother of a family at the centre of the outbreak had all produced negative results, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

NZ Cabinet had decided to make face coverings mandatory in all public transport across the country at levels one and two.

  • Additional reporting from RNZ