New Zealand PM: ‘No one wishes to be responsible for Covid entering into the Pacific’

Tuesday July 14, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the Rarotonga International Airport. Ardern is pictured with Akaiti Puna, the wife of prime minister Henry Puna, and baby Neve during their visit last year. Photo: RASHNEEL KUMAR / 19070718 New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the Rarotonga International Airport. Ardern is pictured with Akaiti Puna, the wife of prime minister Henry Puna, and baby Neve during their visit last year. Photo: RASHNEEL KUMAR / 19070718

New Zealand Prime Minister says speculation about a travel bubble between Cook Islands and New Zealand would be “very premature”. 

Kiwis looking to escape the chilly winter months will be able to travel to Cook Islands “sooner rather than later”, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown announced yesterday.

However New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded saying there are no set dates in place and “no one wants to be responsible for Covid-19 entering Pacific nations” that have managed to keep it out.

For the last four months, Mark Brown said the people of Cook Islands have enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet and the chance to reset.

Now, with more than 40 per cent of the population out of work and on a government-funded wage subsidy, it’s time to open up the country to New Zealand travellers.

“For us the economic necessity cannot be overstated,” Brown said.

Speaking from Rarotonga Airport’s international arrivals lounge yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister said the country was ready “open for business”.

“It’s something to really look forward to,” he said.

“We are confident that we will have something up and running in the next week.”

But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quick to respond saying talks are still taking place and it would be “a week or so” before a decision and final announcement is made.

A spokesperson for Ardern said she spoke to Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna on Sunday to convey that she has asked officials to work on timelines for reopening with realm countries.

“There are no set dates yet, and any speculation at this stage would be very premature,” she said.

“The number one priority will continue to be the safety of both New Zealand and realm countries. No one wishes to be responsible for Covid entering into the Pacific.”

Mark Brown said understandably, there has been a bit of anxiety on both sides.

“We need to make sure all protocols are in place before we push the go button,” he said.

The proposed air bridge will be one of the few in the world between two safe haven countries.

While the country is ready to open it borders to New Zealand, there is still work to be done around allowing travellers from Cook Islands to be exempt from two-weeks’ supervised quarantine.

Brown said there has been work going on behind the scenes with Air New Zealand and others around the establishment of a tunnel at Auckland Airport to make sure there is no interaction between passengers from Cook Islands with other travellers from other countries.

“Our officials will now be working very hard with New Zealand officials to get the air bridge operational,” he said. 

“We have been enjoying ourselves for the last few months but we are now looking forward to welcoming some visitors from New Zealand.”

4 comments

  • Comment Link Marilyn McFall Tuesday, 14 July 2020 18:24 posted by Marilyn McFall

    As we holiday in Rarotonga each year we had to cancel our usual holiday there in May because of Covid, we can’t wait to be able to go to Rarotonga our favourite holiday destination, Rarotonga has no Covid, we would be more than happy to test for Covid & travel there if we get a clearance, we don’t understand why this can’t happen, it would be far safer to go there than Australia. At least if we tested negative for Covid before going there we are taken precautions not to spread the virus to the Cook Is. Some of the NZers returning from other countries have come back to NZ with Covid so not enough precautionary measures taken there.

  • Comment Link rara akariri Tuesday, 14 July 2020 15:12 posted by rara akariri

    Our Prime Minister is only looking out for our own country people who are thinking of travelling to the cookislands at this time.She is right who will take full responsibilty for allowing our people to travel there if they are carrying that virus and she is making sure that the cookislands dose not get it.we just have to be patient and the cookisland government should not be making any announcements to their people until our government lifts the ban.There is too much complaining about this airbridge between our two countries.We all miss our friends and famillies there but we must wait and nothing can be done at this time as there is still talks between our governments.no body else is complaining in the south pacific except the cooks.

  • Comment Link Richard Brown Tuesday, 14 July 2020 14:44 posted by Richard Brown

    You can guarrantee its all about making the announcement at the best time to win votes in the elction

  • Comment Link Maleis Tuesday, 14 July 2020 10:59 posted by Maleis

    Nz's PM is taking this too far. There are numerous ways of making sure everybody is healthy on departure. From mandatory health checks and doctor's certificates before departure to using domestic airports in NZ.
    The important time for us kiwis is to catch some Vit D during the winter months is June to September. October is getting too late for most. If she keep this mutual beneficial arrangement out of reach any longer it will start turning from understanding to anger.
    We miss our Cook island friends terribly!

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