New Covid-19 border measures for the Cook Islands

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The Cook Islands Prime Minister says Cabinet has approved new entry rules for people once the border is reopened mid-January.

Mark Brown said the Covid-19 Safe Framework will be enforceable under new regulations available to Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health.

Under the Safe Framework there will be three different groups of visitors able to enter the country, each group will need to comply with its own particular set of rules.

The three groups are tourists, permit holders, Cook Islanders and permanent residents.

He said failure to comply with the border entry regulations will result in travellers being denied entry to the country at the border.

All three groups must complete the TMO online form 96 hours before departure, return a negative PCR Covid test undertaken within 48 hours of departure and they must have been in New Zealand for at least 10 days prior to entry into the Cook Islands.

In addition to the above, Group one (tourists) may only enter the country if they are fully vaccinated. There are no exceptions to this requirement. Consequently, children under 12 years will not be able to enter the country unless and until they are vaccinated.

Those in the Group two (permit holders for work or residence) may enter the country if they’re vaccinated. There are two exceptions to the vaccination requirement, firstly for children aged under 12 and secondly for those aged over 12 who cannot be vaccinated because of a medical exemption.

Those permitted entry under an exemption will be subject to certain additional public health controls upon their arrival to the Cook Islands, for example, they will be required to self-isolate at home for 5 days and undertake Covid tests.

Cook Islanders and Cook Islands permanent residents comprise Group three.

Group three may enter the country regardless of their vaccination status, however those who are unvaccinated will be subject to certain additional public health controls upon arrival in the country.

For example, Group three travellers aged 12 and over who are not vaccinated and do not have a medical exemption must undergo 10 days in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) at their own cost and undertake three tests during that time.

If a minor (aged 12 – 17) in this group is travelling unaccompanied, a caregiver / guardian will have to enter quarantine with them, and that cost will also need to be paid for.

Group three travellers who have a medical exemption from vaccination must isolate at home for 5 days upon arrival and undertake two tests during that time.
Children aged under 12 travelling with vaccinated adults (or adults exempt from vaccination) or travelling unaccompanied, must isolate at home for five days upon arrival, and undertake two tests.

Children aged under 12 and who are travelling with unvaccinated adults, must enter MIQ with their family.

Prime Minister Mark Brown said “New Zealand will remain our only international gateway for the time being and provide an additional safety buffer, so a traveller from a high-risk country must stand down for ten days before continuing onto the Cook Islands.”

Group three will also be required to prove their immigration status.

The entry requirements will be enforced at the border by immigration officials, and failure to comply with the border entry regulations will result in travellers being denied entry to the country at the border.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS