Cook Islands has amended its border requirements as New Zealand slowly opens up to the rest of the world.
The Cook Islands will soon remove the mandatory 10-day stay in New Zealand for onward travel to Rarotonga in its latest review of border entry requirements.
An update from the Office of the Prime Minister on March 10 confirmed the impending change, including the allowance for a negative RAT test before departure.
A date is yet to be set for when this change comes into effect.
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When the New Zealand and Cook Islands quarantine-free travel (QFT) bubble was established last year, travellers were required to have stayed in New Zealand for 14 days.
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That was reduced to 10 days this year.
The removal of the stand down-stay in New Zealand means all travellers, including those from Australia, will be able to travel freely to the Cooks.
Brown said the move is in line with New Zealand’s removal of MIQ for Kiwis entering the country, and phased-border reopening to the world.
“If you are in New Zealand or have just arrived in New Zealand, then you will be able to travel to the Cook Islands without the need for 10 days’ stand down in New Zealand,” Brown said.
“This will make it easier for our people from Australia in particular to visit home.”
Brown said the 10-day buffer was to mitigate the risk of new Cobid-19 variants directly entering the Cooks.
“However, given New Zealand’s current situation, and the fact that New Zealand has opened quarantine-free travel to the rest of the world, means this requirement is redundant and offers no additional protection to the Cook Islands.”
Travellers to the Cook Islands would still be required to return a negative test prior to entering the Cook Islands border, and a RAT test was now allowed.
Brown said the amendments to border entry requirements was still being drafted, but expected the changes to be in place by this week.
The Cook Islands has also reduced its isolation period for Covid cases to seven days, three days fewer than the initial stand-down period.
As of March 10, Cook Islands has recorded 247 cases, 67 of whom have recovered and are out of isolation.
There were 186 active cases, all with mild symptoms, and none required hospital care.
Brown said there were now two cases in Aitutaki, and both cases were in isolation with close contacts.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the 10-day stay requirement had been removed. The change has been announced and the requirement is expected to be removed this week. (Amended 3.21pm, March 14, 2022)