Are we ready for two-way quarantine-free travel in October?
Sources from within the government told BCN news that the government is looking at opening the borders for two-way quarantine free travel (QFT) with New Zealand in October with no set dates known.
There are concerns though that the locals are not ready yet. One of the key aspects to determine readiness for quarantine-free travel is the use of the contact tracing app Rock Safe. It seems the locals are not using the app and some don’t even carry their QR codes with them.
People were issued with their individual QR cards when they completed their two doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month and some have told BCN news that they were not sure when to start using them.
A few months ago, the health department installed mobile phones with the Rock Safe app installed at most retail outlets and stores around town, at Kiwibank, the petrol station, and at most government departments.
The office of the national broadcaster located at Fonuakula does not have a terminal with the Rock Safe app.
Store owners say that most people are not using the contact tracing app voluntarily.
BCN news went along to find out at Swansons supermarket today, and of the five customers we saw in the ten minutes we were there, only one used the Rock Safe App. Manager Amanda Pita said that the staff all have to use the app when they start and finish their work. The staff notice that most of their customers are not using the app.
Some people are saying that they were not told when to use them and some said that they don’t even carry it around with them.
Aside from the people not using the contact tracing app, the phone terminals themselves have issues. According to some shop owners, the phones need to be charged regularly, and sometimes they will have to remove it from the counter to charge because the cable is not long enough to reach the power point.
Meanwhile, the people are quite determined that everyone intending to visit Niue must be fully vaccinated. This view is shared by public health expert Dr. Colin Tukuitoga who said that the community should insist that all visitors must be fully vaccinated, have negative tests completed, and only allow people from New Zealand.
BCN News reached out to Dr. Tukuitoga today for his advice. He said that the locals should listen to public health officials and ensure that they are vaccinated and minimise interactions with visitors.
Health officials say that they are working on issuing QR cards for children under 16 years old.
If the government is thinking of opening borders in October, it seems there is a lot of work to do, starting with public awareness on the significance of the Rock Safe app and encourage people to use it.