Niue’s quarantine free travel bubble with Aotearoa and the resumption of weekly passenger flights starts on June 27.
Niue is one of very few countries that has had no community transmission of Covid-19. But nine cases were detected at the border, the Office of the Secretary of Government said earlier this week.
“Two-way quarantine-free travel is a significant step for Niue’s Covid-19 recovery and it will mean families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume, and our families can visit their homes in Niue,” Premier Dalton Tagelagi said.
Associate professor of public health Dr Collin Tukuitonga said the Niue government knows a travel bubble will come with health risks, but the economy needs it.
He said people may need to be transferred to New Zealand as Niue does not have the staff or equipment to manage a spike in critically unwell patients.
On arrival, travellers will have to take a PCR test.
A tentative re-opening date was originally set for July. But Tagelagi said Niue is ready following the opening of an isolation unit at Niue Foou Hospital and completion of a vaccination programme for five to 11-year-olds.
It will mean families can reconnect and commercial arrangements can resume, he said.
There is excitement among the business community after a difficult period.
“Accommodation obviously was 100 percent down with absolutely no visitors, and … restaurant sales went down about 70 percent … so it’s a bad time,” said the co-owner of Lau’s Getaway and sushi bar Kaiika Avi Rubin.
“We were just starting to dig into the savings and looking at new ways to make a living.
“All the kids are vaccinated. It’s about time, we need to open the businesses otherwise we won’t be able to survive here,” he said.
“Niue, after two years of having no tourists even got better; the water is clean, there is plenty of fish to go around, when you walk into Niue it is like walking into a brand-new place.”