A travel bubble allowing Cook Islands travellers to enjoy quarantine-free access to New Zealand has been pegged for the first quarter of 2021.
In a joint statement with Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand "will work at pace" to implement this first step in a phased approach to the resumption of two-way quarantine free travel between the two nations.
“Quarantine-free access for travellers from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will provide for the movement of people for delivering and accessing essential services while allowing officials to finalise preparations for a safe return to two-way quarantine-free travel,” Ardern said.
Both leaders have instructed officials to continue working together to put in place all measures required 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.”
Prime Minister Brown welcomed the progress made towards the travel bubble saying free movement between the two nations was "central to our close relationship" and integral to the Cook Islands recovery from the impact of Covid-19.
“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,” Brown said.