Cook Islands ease travel restrictions

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Regulations in the Cook Islands are softening, with Prime Minister Mark Brown announcing major changes surrounding travel to the nation.

The changes are in response to New Zealand’s adjustments to the increasing Omicron infection rate.

Rapid Antigen Tests will now be used instead of PCR tests for travellers coming from New Zealand to the Cook Islands.

A negative Covid-19 test under supervision will now be required to enter the Cook Islands, taken 24 hours before departure.

It’s important to note the RAT will need to be “done under supervision to be valid,” PM Brown said.

The Te Marae Ora website has a list of places and pharmacies where this can be done quickly and at greatly reduced cost.

By this week unvaccinated Cook Islanders and permanent residents can enter the Cook Islands and MIQ will no longer be required.

“It is now much clearer that unvaccinated people pose a greater risk to themselves rather than others when they are infected with Covid.”

He said “MIQ is now redundant” and it’s now about slowing down the impacts to vulnerable people.

If you are in New Zealand or have just arrived in New Zealand, then you will be able travel to the Cook Islands without the need for 10 days stand down in New Zealand.

“This will make it easier for our people from Australia in particular to visit home,” he said.

From midnight Friday, and in alignment with New Zealand, the isolation and quarantine period for those who test positive for Covid-19, and their close contacts, will move from 10 days to seven days.

Meanwhile, restrictions regarding indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings, contact sports and Pa Enua travel has been extended to 11.59pm on Thursday 17 March.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS