Cook Island Travel Bubble

Australians still await news of a trans-Tasman bubble as New Zealand announces an arrangement with the Cook Islands.UPDATEDUPDATED 1 DAY AGOSHARE

New Zealand and the Cook Islands have agreed to a travel arrangement between the two nations, as Australians wait a little while longer to travel across the ditch.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown have instructed officials to put in place measures to safely recommence two-way quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021.

“The arrangement recognises the special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. It will allow people to travel more easily between our two countries, while acknowledging that the priority remains to protect our populations from COVID-19,” Ms Ardern said in a statement on Saturday.READ MORE

Australian Travel Bubble with Cook Islands

Mr Brown noted the free movement between NZ and the Cook Islands is central to their close relationship and integral to the Islands’ recovery from the coronavirus.

“This arrangement is the next step towards resuming many aspects of life in the Cook Islands that have been disrupted by COVID-19, including access to health and education, and reuniting family and friends,” he said.

But Australians eager to travel to NZ will have to wait a little while longer, with the NZ Herald previously reporting that Ms Ardern has ruled out introducing a trans-Tasman bubble until February at the earliest.READ MORE

In the regional town of Woodville on Friday, she denied a specific time frame but agreed she was being cautious over the border.

“I don’t want to take any risks that jeopardise the freedoms we have,” she said.

Her comments came as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Kiwis would be free to enter the state without 14 days in quarantine within days, joining NSW and NT in creating a one-way travel corridor from NZ.

Free movement across the Tasman would be a huge boost to business, tourism and for people eager to see loved ones.READ MORE

It would also clear NZ’s Mandatory Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) backlog, as around 40 per cent of bookings are from Kiwis in Australia.

The MIQ program is currently at capacity until late February, meaning Kiwis wanting to return home face an ongoing wait.

Ms Ardern’s caution is in keeping with her country’s COVID-19 elimination strategy.

The New Zealand government holds concerns about how Australian states might lockdown should future outbreaks occur, and of the ramifications of closing borders again once they are open; which would strand many on either side of the Tasman.

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