Newly elected Premier Dalton Tagelagi is supporting the call for a Pacific bubble and has suggested one between Niue, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand.
Following his election, Premier Tagelagi said he would be speaking to the Prime Minister of New Zealand about the prospect of a Pacific bubble that New Zealand could support.
“I believe I’ll be speaking with the PM of NZ later and look at opening the Pacific bubble – the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga and Samoa. We don’t have any plane but they do but small Cessna’s as we know I’m sure NZ has a spare plane seating around with all this thing going on, that perhaps if I can make a pledge now they can hear it for the first time it can be placed in Niue or Raro and all that plane does is service the 4 islands and of course New Zealand and if it all falls on Auckland.
I think Niue should be focusing on Christchurch where most of our tourists come from and if its COVID free for a while now and I think it’s safe enough for us to say we can open up the borders a little bit.” said Tagelagi
During the general election campaign last month, the private sector had suggested for an island hopping bubble during the talking business forum organized by the Niue Chamber of Commerce.
Local businessman and artist Mark Cross had suggested an island hopping travel bubble between Niue, Samoa and the Cook Islands based on its COVID -19 free status and traditional links.
Sixty percent of businesses on the island are tourism-based with the majority in the accommodation sector. Earlier this year, the government provided a wage supplementation package to tourism businesses that were affected by the closure of borders and travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, Pacific Health expert and Associate Dean of the Auckland University Dr. Colin Tukuitonga is advocating for a Pacific bubble with New Zealand before the trans-Tasman bubble is established.
In an opinion piece published by The Spinoff, Dr. Colin stated that the Pacific islands need to be prioritized post-COVID over the trans – Tasman bubble.
Dr Colin wrote the realm countries (the Cooks, Niue and Tokelau) have been and remain without any cases of the coronavirus. Samoa and Tonga have also remained free of Covid-19. Fiji has reported cases of Covid-19 but they have reported no new cases for more than 28 days. The conclusion is obvious: A quarantine-free travel bubble including New Zealand and the Pacific islands presents a low risk of Covid-19 spread for this country and these islands – provided travelers originate in NZ only.