Media Release: New Zealand Initiative welcomes quarantine-free travel to NZ from the Cook Islands

Media release
15 January, 2021

Wellington, 15 January 2021 - The New Zealand Initiative welcomes today’s announcement of quarantine-free travel to New Zealand from the Cook Islands.

Initiative Chief Economist Dr Eric Crampton said, “About 80,000 Cook Islanders live in New Zealand. Allowing quarantine-free travel from the Covid-free Cook Islands into New Zealand will let their families come to see them again. So long as the Cooks and New Zealand remain Covid-free, we can hope that two-way quarantine-free travel will soon follow.”

“Establishing safe travel corridors between places that are free of Covid, along with rigorous safety protocols keeping Covid out of those safe places, is important in moving to normality over the next year,” he continued. 

The latest WHO situation report shows no cases in the Cooks, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, the Pitcairns, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu. As of 6 January, it had been 56 days since the last reported case in Vanuatu.

In July, the Initiative released a report Safe Arrivals arguing for quarantine-free travel among Covid-free places and tighter protocols for riskier arrivals.

“Restoring normal travel between places without Covid, for as long as they remain Covid-free, means more room in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) for Kiwis returning home from riskier places. When Kiwis have difficulty booking space in MIQ, does it really make sense to require RSE workers from Covid-free islands to sit through quarantine?” Dr Crampton continued.

In addition to recommending quarantine-free travel zones with other places that are demonstrably Covid-free, the Initiative has also suggested tightened protocols in MIQ for arrivals from riskier places.

The University of Illinois’ saliva-based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test has been available since August and could be deployed here for near-daily testing of all border workers and for everyone in quarantine. Daily testing would make transmission into the community from MIQ less likely.

Read more:
Dr Eric Crampton’s report Safe Arrivals is available here.


Dr Eric Crampton is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer

P: 04 494 9104 / 021 172 8036

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