People travelling from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will soon no longer be required to quarantine on arrival in New Zealand, in a first step towards introducing a travel bubble.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown confirmed on Saturday the timing of removal of mandatory quarantine for people arriving from the Cook Islands will be decided early next week.
"The arrangement recognises the special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. It will allow people to travel more easily between our two countries while acknowledging that the priority remains to protect our populations from COVID-19," Ardern said.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown welcomed the news saying it was a "first step phased approach to the full resumption of two-way quarantine free travel between our countries".
People travelling from New Zealand to the Cook Islands will still need to isolate on arrival, for now.
Both Prime Ministers and their Cabinets have instructed officials to continue working on implementing two-way quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021.
Brown says it will allow Cook Islanders to receive urgent medical care in New Zealand as well as making travel easier for those working in Cook Islands judicial and education sectors.
"Quarantine-free access for travellers from the Cook Islands to New Zealand will provide for the movement of people for delivering and assessing essential services, while allowing officials to finalise preparations for a safe return to two-way quarantine-free travel," Ardern said.
The Cook Islands don't have any cases of COVID-19.