New Zealand has announced that they’re ready for their next two-way quarantine-free travel arrangement, this time forming a Cook Islands travel bubble to start from as soon as May 17. So what does this mean for Australians keen to visit the South Pacific nation?
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that Kiwis will be able to visit the Cook Islands without having to sit through quarantine in either country. The start date for the Cook Islands travel bubble is slated for May 17, less than two weeks away.
“The Cook Islands are in a stronger position to prevent, detect and manage any potential COVID-19 outbreak, which means a two-way travel bubble can now proceed,” she said.
“A green travel zone between the Cooks and New Zealand will allow families to reconnect, commercial arrangements to resume, and tourism in the Cooks to kick off once again. This will all provide a boost to the Cook Island’s economy and help in the country’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.”
But unlike the Australia-NZ travel bubble, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Cooks, Kiwis will most likely have to return to New Zealand straight away instead of bunkering down in place.
“As in the case with Australia, the bubble comes with a flyer beware caveat. If there is an outbreak in New Zealand, flights are likely to be paused. In addition to that, our plan if there is an outbreak in the Cooks is more explicit,” she explains.
“So rather than require everyone to shelter in place as we would in Australia, we would be more likely to get our people home. We view this as necessary to reduce pressure on the Cook Islands and minimise further spread of the virus.”
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So, what does this mean for Aussies keen for some Cook Islands action?
Technically, not much. However, there is currently a loophole that Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt is trying to swiftly shut down to prevent Aussies from travelling onward to the Cook Islands from NZ.
As it stands, the NZ-Cook Islands travel bubble doesn’t include Australia, so with the loophole, Australians could spend 14 days in NZ COVID-free and then continue an onward journey to the Cook Islands.
As a result, Old Greg is announcing large fines for Australians who can’t justify their travel on compassionate or urgent medical grounds when returning home to Australia.
But Cook Islands Tourism is keen for Aussies to get over there, hoping for the next Cook Islands travel bubble to be with Australia.
“Getting the New Zealand/Cook Islands bubble is the first step in our re-opening, but as you will hope, we are very keen to see that extended to our Australian neighbours as soon as it is possible,” Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for Australasia general manager Graeme West said.
(Lead image: Yvette Goldberg on Unsplash)
Sonia feels most at home on the road, with travel her greatest passion. But really, she’s hype about a lot of things: beautiful design, tasty food, wellness, nature, interesting people and women’s issues. The Founding Editor of Junkee’s The Cusp and former Homes Editor at Nine, Sonia prides herself on seeking out authentic experiences with charm and loves sharing a personal rec. Catch her on Instagram @sonnietothetee.