COVID-19: Cook Islands travel bubble announcement to be made on Monday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed there will be a Cook Islands travel bubble announcement on Monday afternoon, with rumours it will commence in just under a fortnight.

Ardern said she hopes to announce a bubble commencement date on Monday afternoon following a Cabinet meeting. But the Cook Islands News says sources have already told it May 15 is the start date for the bubble (May 16 NZ time).

"We will be giving further details after Cabinet," Ardern told The AM Show. "We will be having that discussion around our readiness on both sides."

Rarotonga remains free of COVID-19. New Zealand hasn't reported a community case for nearly two weeks. The latest infection was linked to the border and quickly contained. 

Ardern said a bubble was good news for both countries.

"The Cook Islands have really been looking for that certainty for such a big part of their economy - [which] is tourism - and New Zealanders make up a large part of that."

She said quarantine-free travel between the nations had been a work-in-progress.

"We wanted to make sure when we did it, we got it right. We don't want to run the risk of exporting COVID to the Cook Islands."

Last month, Air New Zealand ramped up its operations to the Islands from May 10 but the national carrier claimed it was a "tentative" measure.