WELLINGTON, KOMPAS.com – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared on Monday plans of New Zealand’s travel bubble plans with the Cook Islands slated to be open before the end of 2020.
The South Pacific country is considering similar travel bubble plans with Australia, but has been taking a more cautious approach with the arrangement.
According to Jacinda Ardern, a quarantine-free travel corridor was possible between New Zealand and the Cook Islands since both nations had successfully contained the virus.
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"Our expectation is that it would be in place before the end of the year," she told reporters, adding that officials were being careful not to move too quickly on the proposal.
"The last thing anyone wants is to reopen travel, only to have it closed down again because it hasn't been done properly."
New Zealand has recorded only 22 coronavirus deaths in a population of five million, and marked 100 days since its last case of community transmission on Sunday, while the Cooks declared itself virus-free in mid-April.
The economic benefits of the travel bubble are expected to be felt mostly in the Cooks, a popular tourist destination where Ardern estimated 60 percent of pre-virus visitors were from New Zealand.
A trans-Tasman bubble with Australia would be far more advantageous to New Zealand's economy, where international tourism screeched to a halt when borders were closed in March.
The prospect looked tantalizingly close a few months ago before Australia was hit with a second wave of infections centered on Victoria state.