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Travel bubble between NZ and Cook Islands 'very premature', Ardern spokesperson says

The Prime Minister has shut down speculation around a travel bubble opening soon between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, but has asked officials "to work on timelines for reopening with realm countries". 

Cook Islands. Source: istock.com

A spokesperson for Jacinda Ardern told 1 NEWS she had spoken to Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna yesterday.

"There are no set dates yet, and any speculation at this stage would be very premature," the spokesperson said. 

"The number one priority will continue to be the safety of both New Zealand and realm countries. No one wishes to be responsible for Covid entering into the Pacific."

However, Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown spoke to media this week and said he was confident an announcement around a bubble would happen next week. 

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The Cook Islands Private Sector Taskforce is demanding the New Zealand government open up its borders. Source: 1 NEWS

He also told RNZ today a travel bridge to allow people to travel freely would be announced in the next week. 

RNZ reported last week that New Zealand officials were considering a quarantine exemption for important travellers from the Cook Islands.

On June 19, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters told media a travel bubble with certain Pacific Islands could be a matter of weeks away.

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Three hundred people will be quarantined for 2 weeks in an Auckland hotel before flying home for another fortnight in isolation. Source: 1 NEWS

"I think we're very close to cracking a deal with them, but we've got to ensure they've got the medical provisioning, the hospital security and the maritime security to ensure we don't harm them and they don't harm us," he said.  

Mr Peters said the Governent was "much closer than you think".

The Cook Islands declared itself Covid-free on April 18.