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Change in pre-departure Covid testing for visitors

Friday 11 March 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in National, Travel


Change in pre-departure Covid testing for visitors
The Air New Zealand check in counter at the Rarotonga International Airport equipped with Covid-19 safety protocols. AL WILLIAMS/22011212

Cook Islands will change its pre-departure Covid-19 testing requirement to include rapid antigen tests (RAT) as an option instead of PCR tests which cost around $250.

Prime Minister Mark Brown made the announcement yesterday and said the changes could be implemented by next week.

Travellers will need to take a RAT 24 hours before their flight to the Cook Islands and will need to do it under supervision to be valid.

“This is in response to the changing situation in New Zealand as they adjust to the increasing Omicron infection rate,” Brown said.

“Some of the entry requirements that are in place are now redundant and need changing.

“Although Cabinet has made these decisions today, we still require drafting of the regulations to amend those changes and Executive Council to put them into effect. I have asked my team to do this as quickly as possible, by next week.”

Brown said Te Marae Ora would provide a list of the places and pharmacies where the test could be done “quickly and at greatly reduced cost”.

The Prime Minister said the Cabinet also decided to remove the requirement for travellers to have been in NZ for 10 days before being allowed to travel to the Cook Islands.

“If you are in NZ or have just arrived in NZ, then you will be able travel to the Cook Islands without the need for 10 days to stand down in NZ,” he said.

“This will make it easier for our people from Australia, in particular, to visit home.

“Given New Zealand’s current situation, and the fact that New Zealand has opened QFT (quarantine free travel) to the rest of the world, means this requirement is redundant and offers no additional protection to the Cook Islands.”

The temporary restrictions to unvaccinated Cook Islanders and permanent residents will also be removed meaning they can now enter the country.

The managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) and self-isolation requirements for unvaccinated Cook Islanders and Permanent Residents are also being removed.

However, Air New Zealand still requires all its passengers to be vaccinated on international flights.