14 Nov 2020

NZ officials to assess Cook Islands travel bubble

11:04 am on 14 November 2020

New Zealand officials will be arriving in the Cook Islands today as part of ongoing work to investigate a possible travel bubble.

Kayaks at Muri Beach on Rarotonga, the largest island in the Cook Islands.

Covid testing capacity and border defences will be scrutinised over the next few days. Photo: AFP

While reluctant to put a time frame on it, this week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a bubble could be in place a couple of weeks after officials have given the green light.

The Cook Islands has had no reported cases of Covid-19 and is anxious for tourism to restart.

Minister in charge of Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said officials would be in the Cook Islands for about a week.

"They will be looking at what the testing capabilities are in the Cook Islands in the event they need to do testing there and they will look at the border defences."

Hipkins said there would also be a focus on the maritime border as well.

"There is a lot of maritime traffic through the Cook Islands potentially, so they will be looking at all of those sorts of things."

Hipkins said there would be some reciprocal work from Cook Island officials as well, who were already in New Zealand.

"[They] will be looking closely and reporting back to the Cooks about the protections that we have in place, bearing in mind that we want to do everything that we can, at such time as travel reopens with the Cooks to prevent Covid getting from New Zealand to there."

New Zealand officials would be isolating for two weeks after their visit, but would continue to work, so they could relay the information from their trip as soon as possible, he said.

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