Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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New Zealand moves to reopen border but only with Cook Islands

WELLINGTON: New Zealand took tentative steps Saturday towards reopening its borders for the first time in the Covid era, but only with the tiny Cook Islands in the South Pacific.
The government announcement made no mention of any plans for a broader expansion to take in Australia, which introduced a one-way travel bubble in October allowing quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia but not vice-versa.
New Zealand has been widely praised for its strict handling of the coronavirus which has caused just 25 deaths in a population of five million.
In a brief statement, the government said planning was now under way for quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands to begin in the first quarter of next year.
“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,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
It has been more than three weeks since the last case of community transmission in New Zealand, and the Cook Islands are Covid free.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said the free movement of people between New Zealand and his country “is central to our close relationship” and integral to the Cook Islands’ recovery from the coronavirus.
The Cook Islands is self-governing in “free association” with New Zealand, meaning that while it administers its own affairs, Cook Islanders are both New Zealand citizens and Cook Islands nationals.

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