As of next Thursday, January 21, residents from the Cook Islands will be able to travel to New Zealand without having to quarantine. But there’s a catch – the arrangement is only one-way for now.
Announcing the news today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ Covid-free status and the implementation of strict health and border protocols we are now in the position to resume quarantine-free travel for passengers from the Cook Islands into New Zealand.”
To meet the criteria, travellers from the Cook Islands must not have been overseas nor have had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case within the past 14 days.
Travellers will also have to maintain social distancing at Auckland Airport from anyone who did not arrive from the Cook Islands via a “safe travel path” to keep passengers separate.
Public health officials in New Zealand said they would also be operating random temperature checks on all flights arriving from the Cook Islands into New Zealand.
Before returning to the Cook Islands, passengers would need to take a Covid test within 96 hours of their flight departing in Auckland.
In response to the news, Air New Zealand flights from the Cook Islands to New Zealand are on sale now with the national carrier saying they are looking forward to welcoming the first flight from the Cook Islands into Auckland on 21 January at 10:50am New Zealand time.
Air New Zealand will operate two flights per week, departing Rarotonga on Wednesdays and Saturdays using the airline’s A320 fleet.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the airline is proud to be bringing our Rarotongan neighbours to New Zealand and making headway with two-way safe quarantine-free travel.
“This is fantastic news for both Cook Islanders and New Zealanders. We know many Cook Islanders will be eager to connect with friends and family in New Zealand, and we look forward to seeing what a two-way quarantine-free travel arrangement will look like.”
Greg Foran, Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer
“Of course safety is our first priority for our customers and staff. We’ve been working closely with both governments, relevant agencies and airports on what is required to keep our customers and staff safe once travel opens up.”
Customers travelling from Rarotonga to New Zealand will be required to wear masks inflight and health checks for quarantine-free travel from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will occur both at Rarotonga International Airport and in Auckland Airport on arrival.
The million dollar question: When will return flights begin and Kiwi’s be able to travel to the Cook Islands again?
Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and The Cook Islands is tipped to resume within the first three months of 2021.
Sounds like it could be all systems go by April 2021.
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