It might be time for a winter getaway! Two-way quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand will begin on May 17, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed at a press conference this afternoon.
Cook Islanders have been allowed into New Zealand quarantine-free since January, but the same didn’t apply to New Zealanders until now. The new travel bubble means Kiwis will be allowed to visit both the Cook Islands and Australia quarantine free from May 17th.
Ardern said the bubble is possible because the Cook Islands has taken steps to prevent, detect and manage Covid-19, “As in the case with Australia, the bubble comes with a ‘flyer-beware’ caveat,” Ardern adds.
This differs slightly from the trans-Tasman bubble as in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak occurring in the Cook Islands, Kiwis will be brought home. If an outbreak occurs as part of the trans-Tasman bubble, Kiwis and Australians must stay put if there is a lockdown.
"Two way quarantine-free travel is a significant step in both countries' COVID-19 recovery, and a direct result of both New Zealand and the Cook Islands' successful response to the pandemic," Ardern said on Monday.
“It will mean families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume and Kiwis can take a much-welcomed winter break and support the Cook Island’s tourism sector and recovery.”
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says it’s “terrific” to be opening the bubble between Rarotonga and New Zealand in both directions after four months of a one-way arrangement.
“We’re certain our Cook Island neighbours will become Kiwis with open arms for a much-needed boost for the local economy, and we’re looking forward to reconnecting friends and whanau who haven’t been able to take advantage of the one-way travel arrangement that’s been in place since January.”