21 Apr 2020

Cook Islands govt under pressure to ease Covid-19 rules

6:43 am on 21 April 2020

The Cook Islands government is under pressure to ease rules that people returning from overseas must spend two spells in quarantine.

After Prime Minister Henry Puna's cabinet is developing a national action plan aimed at keeping country covid-19-free.

Henry Puna

Henry Puna Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

The double quarantine rule has been a polarising one in the Cook Islands.

Travellers must clear two weeks in a quarantine facility near Auckland airport, then head into another two weeks quarantine after they land in Rarotonga before being able to go home.

But for almost three hundred Cook Islanders already in lockdown across New Zealand, the policy is "too much".

They are asking their government for the same rights to head home as other repatriated citizens around the world, and are willing to be Covid-19 tested in New Zealand first before heading into quarantine on Rarotonga.

Any official response from government on whether it will keep to the double quarantine, or be more flexible, will depend on what New Zealand does next as well.

Health ministry head Dr Aumea Josephine Herman is now Auckland based to manage the next steps in the quarantine process.

The Cook Islands doesn't have the facilities to treat positive cases of covid-19.