Booking the Cooks – taking a holiday in a Pacific islands bubble has become a question of when

Latest from the Beehive

It’s been a quiet day in the Beehive with nothing particularly potent to emerge – in terms of lifting our general wellbeing – than the news we may soon be able to holiday in the Cook Islands.

The PM’s press statement kicked off with the revelation that she and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna, have welcomed the completion of phase one in the establishment of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Island.

Great – but when can we take our holiday there?

The answer was to be found a few paragraphs down the press statement and was a master of vagueness:

Both Governments are hoping to have a travel bubble in place before the end of the year, and as soon as it can be safely achieved.

That’s about as much as we needed to know, really, but the Beehive Bugle Brigade provided us with a great deal of blah about progress on shaping the text of an ‘Arrangement to Facilitate Quarantine-Free Travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand’. 

Negotiations  “are at the point of conclusion” (which we think means “are almost complete”).  This had been reported to the Cook Islands Cabinet last Friday and the New Zealand Cabinet yesterday.

The press statement says:

The Arrangement outlines the health and border requirements for each country to meet in order to recommence quarantine-free travel, and annexes provide further detail on the implementation, including border and travel protocols.

Phase two will see health and border officials from both countries undertake quality assurance and system stress test checks to ensure the requirements in the Arrangement can be implemented on the ground.

Once assurance of the arrangements is guaranteed, phase three is a decision from the respective Cabinets that the Arrangement and on the ground measures can be started safely and quarantine free travel can begin.

Our eagle-eyed readers will have observed that the Arrangement is given a capital “A” to show it is more important than other government arrangements.

It sets up the legal basis for the travel bubble and quarantine travel between New Zealand and the Cooks and all the rules and requirements that we need in place to make it work safely.

Ardern went on to advise:

“This Arrangement recognises the constitutional relationship and special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and provides the framework to recommence travel without the need to quarantine on arrival in both countries.

“Once in force, the Arrangement will facilitate the return to normal travel between our two countries, while acknowledging that the priority remains to protect our populations from COVID-19.

“We now need to make sure the commitments made in the Arrangement can be met and that both countries have robust health and border system that stop the spread of COVID.

“We need to stress test the arrangement, ensure testing and surveillance systems are strong, that we have contact tracing systems in place in the event of a case and that both countries can ensure those eligible for travel within the New Zealand/Cook Islands travel bubble meet the requisite health and border criteria as detailed in the Arrangement.”

By the way – did you spot the lower-case “a” that slipped into the text in the previous paragraph?

But we are guilty of that sort of thing, too. What’s important is that there will be a report back on progress in two weeks.

The two Prime Ministers will sign the Arrangement (or arrangement) once the conditions for safe travel to recommence are in place.

Officials will work closely with industry to progress this work.

Among other announcements, we learned that former Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway passed muster in an inquiry to check whether he had mis-spent taxpayers’ money and – as Minister of Housing – Megan Woods reminded Kiwis abroad that some of them will have to pay quarantine fees should they want to come home.

11 AUGUST 2020

Pacific Ministers meet to discuss regional economic priorities

The Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) begins today and will focus on the major economic and social impacts of COVID-19 on the Pacific.

10 AUGUST 2020

Report into Iain Lees-Galloway’s expenditure

A report undertaken by Ministerial Services into Iain Lees-Galloway’s ministerial expenditure has found no evidence of any inappropriate transactions or spending.

Managed isolation charges to start 11 August

Managed isolation charges for returnees will come into force from 12.01am Tuesday 11th August, after they passed their last cabinet milestone today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said.

Update on New Zealand and the Cook Islands travel bubble

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna have welcomed the completion of phase one in the establishment of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Island.

One-stop ‘jobs and training’ shop goes live

The Government has launched a new online, phone and onsite service to help New Zealanders connect to a range of employment support and products for workers and businesses affected by COVID-19, announced Minister of Education Chris Hipkins and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.

 

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