Leaders in the Pa Enua (outer islands) could soon be cautiously welcoming back tourists.
The Cook Islands Government is still pushing for a return of commercial travel for the Southern Group of the islands on April 18, and the Northern Group of the islands on April 25. Aitutaki is already open for travel.
When Cook Islands
News contacted representatives of the Pa Enua, most of them were happy about
the proposed dates, but some were worried about the arrival of Covid-19.
Atiu mayor Nooroa
Paratainga said its Island Council would meet on Wednesday to confirm whether
they will go ahead with reopening on April 18.
Te Marae Ora will equip us with the plans for us to respond to Covid-19 when it
arrives,” Paratainga said.
Rangi Taia said he did not think the island would be particularly busy once the
“Covid-19 is a big
worry, I think a lot of people are still cautious about it,” Taia said.
“So far, we don’t
have any cases of it on our island, but if we allow these flights, there’s a
real risk of it arriving.”
Taia said he was
confident Te Marae Ora health ministry would set the right conditions for passengers
on flights to the Pa Enua.
“They’ve done a
good job so far,” he said.
Mitiaro mayor Makara Murare said he was also concerned about Covid-19, particularly with the number of cases in Rarotonga.
“If we get
Covid-19 in our island, the hospital is not big enough to manage it. Our
hospital has only three beds, the Government should look at upgrading the
medical facilities on the Pa Enua so we can manage any likely cases,” Murare
Murare said the
island had a very high vaccination rate, but he was worried about the
vulnerability of the younger population, who were not vaccinated.
However, he said
the island had several upcoming maintenance and infrastructure projects, which
required workers from Rarotonga.
officer Royston Jones said their island was still requiring all travellers to
have a permit from Te Marae Ora before they can arrive.
He said the Mauke
Island Council was still waiting for further consultation from the Government
before they agree to the reopening of the border.
Ngamata Napara said its Island Council had discussed with the community the
proposal to reopen, and the community was broadly in favour of it.
“But we don’t want
to be reopening for the sake of reopening,” Napara said.
“The safety of our
people is paramount, particularly with this Covid-19 pandemic.”
Napara said the
island was also looking forward to the repatriation of its residents who were
“A lot of projects
have remained on hold since the borders have closed,” she said.
“We’re going to
get all of these started again once the borders reopen.”
Council executive officer Toka Hagai said its council would hold a meeting, but
at this stage, it was pushing for a reopening date of April 25.
“We’re getting everything prepared for it,”
completed the vaccination of our under-15s, then we can be satisfied that we’re