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Australia travel bubble delayed, focus now on Cook Islands and Niue, says NZ PM
04:54 am GMT+12, 31/07/2020, New Zealand

 While a trans-Tasman travel bubble definitely looks delayed because of a surge in Covid-19 cases in Australia, chances for a Pacific bubble are looking better, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.
 
But the quarantine-free travel is only being considered among realm countries - Cook Islands and Niue.
 
“We have said that realm countries are likely to be open before Australia because they have been Covid-free,” Ardern told Radio Tarana in an interview Friday.
 
“So we are doing that work in realm countries, those are New Zealand passport holders, so that's Cook Island and Niue.”
 
The government had initially said it would open up a transTasman bubble with Australia first before considering opening up to other Pacific island countries.
 
Victoria experienced its worst day since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 723 new cases and 13 deaths recorded on Thursday. The grim result smashes the previous record of 532 infections announced on Monday.
 
But Cook Island and Niue are likely to get a first crack at open borders with New Zealand, ahead of other Pacific nations like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands.
 
“Cook Island in particular are advocating for a border reopening, we're working on it carefully, and of course continue to use the same criteria about being Covid-free,” PM Ardern said.
 
“The whole point of the bubble would be quarantine-free travel, so we have to be so careful about making those decisions.
 
“The Cook Islands obviously are very eager, Niue, it's very much their decision and ours, both parties have to be happy, and I think Niue are just working through that decision making for themselves, but we're taking a cautious approach,” Ardern said.
 
She did not indicate a time-frame for this to happen.
 
Ardern also spoke about the recent back-to-back favourable opinion polls, and also on her being named the world's most eloquent leader by professional development coaches from Acuity Training's Development Academy.
 
And her message to voters for the September 19 election: “The one really important message from me is that we won't be complacent.
 
“We will be working very hard for every single vote and make sure that people do turn out because democracy relies on people using their voice,” she said.

SOURCE: RADIO TARANA/STUFF NZ/PACNEWS


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