1 Sep 2020

Cook Islands border restrictions loosened

2:58 pm on 1 September 2020

The Cook Islands border rules have been loosened slightly to allow Cook Islanders to return home under strict conditions.

Rarotonga Airport

Rarotonga Airport Photo: RNZI / Mary Baines

But a much-anticipated travel bubble with New Zealand was disappearing further into the horizon.

The Cook Islands cabinet yesterday agreed to open the border to allow Cook Islanders, and those with work and resident permits to return.

The new rules came into effect overnight and allow dozens of people who've been stranded in New Zealand to return home, although they'll have to undergo supervised quarantine.

The Cook Islands border was closed entirely a month ago, when a community outbreak of Covid-19 was confirmed in Auckland.

It was also confirmed, plans for a travel bubble - which were burst when the Auckland cluster was confirmed - were on hold.

Meanwhile a US-flagged yacht was forced to seek help in Rarotonga this weekend, despite the islands being closed to mariners.

The SV Marauder was sailing from Hawai'i to French Polynesia when it was blown off course and damaged.

Cook Islands authorities said the captain radioed for help, and was met by maritime officials in full protective equipment.

They said the yacht's seven crew members were quarantined on the yacht while they were helped with fuel and supplies.