Travel Advisory Updates from Experience Rarotonga.

This Travel Advisory is updated in accordance with published official information only from the following sources:

New Zealand Government, Cook Islands Government, NZ Ministry of Health, Cook Islands Health Officials.

UPDATED ON: 7 July 2020 (NZ time)

Jacinda Ardern speaks to the topic of when the borders may open.

Interview 6 July 2020

Now that Australia has had a setback in their border opening for New Zealand, and has asserted that they wish to move forward as one unit rather than State by State, Jack Tane asked Jacinda Ardern what this means for New Zealand and for the opening of the Pacific Islands in the immediate term – the short version of her reply is ‘watch this space, we are down the track with discussions already’. Watch the interview

New Zealand considers quarantine exemptions for Cook Islands

11:58 am on 4 July 2020

New Zealand officials are considering a quarantine exemption for important travellers from the Cook Islands.

The exemption, which is the first of its kind, would apply to relatives accompanying patients seeking medical treatment here, members of the judiciary, health workers, and people working on critical infrastructure.

It follows a meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and his counterpart Mark Brown on Thursday, after which Peters instructed officials to look into the exemption.

A spokesperson for Peters said details were still being decided.

Discussions on a possible wider travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand are also underway.

“The Cook Islands will continue to limit air access to the Cook Islands via Auckland only through to December. We consider these further commitments critical to preserving and protecting a shared travel bubble with New Zealand,” the Cook Islands Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Source: Radio New Zealand News

UPDATED ON: 4 July 2020 (NZ time)

Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration

July 3 at 5:04 PM  · Shared with Public

Thursday 2 July 2020, 16:00

Cook Islands-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Forum prioritise border settings review.

The Cook Islands and New Zealand concluded yesterday, via virtual platform an extraordinary Joint Ministerial Forum (JMF), within the context of COVID-19, with a focus on response and recovery. Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown chaired the discussions, with New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters leading for New Zealand.Yesterday’s meeting was the culmination of multiple discussions between the two governments dating back to January – at Prime Minister, Minister and senior officials levels. The most recent prior exchange before yesterday’s JMF was the meeting of Senior Officials via the JMF Working Group chaired by Cook Islands Foreign Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann on the 18th June.The JMF is the preeminent policy dialogue mechanism between the Cook Islands and New Zealand that considers and agrees bilateral cooperation priorities and activities. It convenes annually to ensure cooperation activities maintain forward momentum and remain responsive to evolving needs and issues and is provided policy support and advice via the JM Working Group led by the respective Foreign Ministries of both governments. Discussions yesterday focused on the border settings of New Zealand and the Cook Islands with respect to COVID-19 and the economic impact of COVID-19. On border settings, work on the creation of a ‘safe travel zone’ between the Cook Islands and New Zealand has been undertaken at multiple levels within both settings for a number of weeks, noting considerations are complex, multifaceted and reach across all areas of Government. Said Minister Brown, “It was a very positive discussion with Minister Peters with consensus on the primacy of our health imperatives and preserving the hard won gains New Zealand and the Cook Islands have made in going early and going hard to eliminate and mitigate against the spread of COVID-19. We agreed it necessary to remain vigilant and ensure robust mitigation measures against risks, including border settings, given the virus continued growth elsewhere in the world. At the same time however, we committed to continuing to prioritise progression of border settings easement between ourselves given we’ve both for some time now been safe havens from COVID-19 and New Zealand’s current border settings are having significant impact and implications on the Cook Islands health, social and economic circumstances.” Minister Brown reiterated prior requests from the Cook Islands for the removal of quarantine requirements on arrival into New Zealand for travellers from the Cook Islands and relaxing of New Zealand’s outwards travel advisory for travel to the Cook Islands. Minister Peters has tasked his officials to explore the potential for removal of the 14 day supervised quarantine for certain categories of travellers from the Cook Islands to New Zealand such as accompanying family member for health referrals; members of the judiciary; medical personnel and critical infrastructure personnel. The Cook Islands also expressed its desire to see the early resumption of tourists from New Zealand, noting the Cook Islands current border settings had a pre-requisite of 30 days prior residence in New Zealand for entry into the Cook Islands. “We are grateful for New Zealand’s sustained engagement and consideration of the Cook Islands since February on New Zealand’s border settings and we look forward to continued collaboration in the coming weeks. In addition to maintaining the pre-requisite of 30 days prior residence in New Zealand for entry into the Cook Islands through to at least September, the Cook Islands will continue to limit air access to the Cook Islands via Auckland only through to December. We consider these further commitments critical to preserving and protecting a shared travel bubble with New Zealand.” Border settings and critical preparedness and response work continues apace to ensure the establishment of requisite levels of mutual trust and confidence in border control settings and public health measures through surveillance and testing regimes, including robust contact tracing systems. Minister Peters noted NZ continue to take very seriously their duty to minimize and mitigate against the risk of introducing COVID-19 to the Pacific and the Cook Islands. This sentiment was supported by Minister Brown, who further noted that “This duty of care rests on both the Cook Islands and New Zealand. It requires of senior officials careful and detailed consideration of all risks associated with a potential ‘safe travel zone’ that therefore necessitates close collaboration and identification of support required to strengthen our already existing processes in addition to a full articulation of the practical policy settings we need in place to operationalize an easement of restrictions between the Cook Islands and New Zealand. The impact of COVID-19 on the Cook Islands economy, and perhaps most significantly tourism, cannot be understated, however as we’ve seen globally and locally in New Zealand’s own response, we cannot risk the health and wellbeing of our people by rushing prematurely into an easement of restrictions. Our officials will therefore need to work rapidly to review and assess our current levels of preparedness, and we welcome the assistance of New Zealand in this regard.”New Zealand has agreed to assist the Cook Islands with a second deployment of technical assistance from New Zealand to support a rapid review and assessment of the Cook Islands whole-of-Government systems and preparedness, inclusive strengthened border management systems and health system capability. Officials from both sides will meet within the week to revisit outcomes of the JMF and progress agreed actions. Queries regarding this media release can be directed to End.

UPDATED ON: 4 June 2020

Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna announced yesterday that the Cook Islands Borders would be open to New Zealanders from the Cook Islands side once NZ is in Level One. NZ has not yet announced the border measures at the New Zealand end. We remain confident the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern will make the right decision with the safety of the people in mind

UPDATED ON: 29 May 2020

New Zealand now has only 1 known active case of COVID-19. We await the next official review of the restrictions on 8 June 2020.

UPDATED ON: 28 May 2020

New Zealand now has only 8 known active cases of COVID-19, all of which are in the greater Auckland area.

UPDATED ON: 26 May 2020

Discussions are to be held between the two governments in the first week of June regarding border control measures for safely reopening some travel between NZ & the Cook Islands.

UPDATED ON: 24 May 2020

Announcement Sunday 24 May (CI Time) by Minister of Finance Hon Mark Brown – The Cook Islands Government will be rolling out Phase II of the Economic Response Plan to boost recovery & help transform the economy post COVID-19.

UPDATED ON: 24 April 2020

The repatriation process for Cook Islanders stranded in New Zealand is now able to be commenced. This will involve a 14 day quarantine in Auckland and an additional quarantine in Rarotonga to reduce the risk as much as possible of COVID-19 being introduced to the Cook Islands

UPDATED ON: 17 April 2020

The Cook Islands has been announced a COVI FREE ZONE by the Cook Islands Government. Precautions are still in place.

UPDATED ON: 13 April 2020

Live announcement from Henry Puna – Prime Minister of the Cook Islands

UPDATED ON: 11 April 2020

The Cook Islands Government has confirmed that ALL of the COVID-19 tests 575 tests sent to NZ returned as negative, still some tests to come in. The border has been closed for 14 days. Just one flight a week currently going in for freight.
Cook Islands and NZ Governments working together to keep our wee paradise safe.

UPDATED ON: 19 March 2020

We are keeping up to date with developments from official sources in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

The New Zealand Government has further strengthened travel restrictions, closing our border to almost all travellers from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020 (NZDT).

New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) can still come to New Zealand. Immediate family must have a valid visa or NZeTA and travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight to New Zealand.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand can also return to New Zealand. In addition, Australian citizens, residents and immediate family (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) are able to transit New Zealand to Australia. New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family (partner, legal guardian and dependent children) are able to transit Australia to New Zealand.

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