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On May 17th, New Zealand and the Cook Islands will start a two-way travel bubble, putting an end to the one-way travel bubble. New Zealanders still had to undergo quarantine measures when travelling to the Cook Islands, whereas Cook Islanders were allowed to skip the quarantine period in New Zealand. 

At the start of the week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated, “It will mean families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume, and Kiwis can take a much-welcomed winter break and support the Cook Islands’ tourism sector and recovery.”

Air New Zealand will also be doubling its flights to Rarotonga Airport in the Capital Islands to twice a week. This will then be increased to four times a week by early June. Despite being seen as an unpopular flight, the connection between Auckland and Rarotonga is essential for the locals as most Cook Islanders live in New Zealand. Moreover, tourism is key for the Islands’ economy. 

The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown noted, “The learnings from the trans-Tasman arrangement have informed further bolstering of response capabilities by both Governments in preparation for the commencement of the Cook Islands – New Zealand quarantine-free travel arrangement.” 

Both the New Zealand and Cook Islands Governments took a stance on Australians travelling the Islands via Auckland. Australian citizens seeking to return from India will be fined or even jailed. 

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