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DPM and Minister of Finance Announcement COVID-19 Economic Response Plan 18 March 2020 (Maori translation)

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GOVERNMENT OF THE COOK ISLANDS
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
Announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Mark Brown
Cook Islands Covid-19 Economic Response Plan
18 March 2020, 6pm

Greetings

Kia Orana tatou katoatoa i te aroa maata o to tatou Atua

Ki te iti tangata Kuki Airani, to Rarotonga, to te pa enua, e to vao mai i to tatou tai – te Atua te aroa no tatou katoatoa.

Kia kotou te iti tangata e te au taeake e akarongo mai nei i teia karere puapinga – kotou takapini i teia nei ao – te na runga nei i teia roro uira, te pia akaata tutu o te Kuki Airani e pera to Aitutaki, Kia Orana.

Aroa takake kia kotou katoatoa tei tae mai i teia atinga nei, kotou tei mata mai ite au tu’anga ote nuti, te Kavamani, te au ngai kimi puaping, te Aronga Mana e pera katoa te au putuputu’anga tuketuke ote Basileia, Turou.

Akatuera’anga

I teia ra, te arapaki ia nei tatou e tetai turanga manako kore’ia e pera te papu kore.

E turanga teia kare e akataeake mai ki te tu’anga o te kimi puapinga, te au kena Basileia, e te akatupu nei ite tumatetenga ki te ora’anga o te iti tangata e pera te turanga kimi puapinga takapini i teia nei ao mate akatupu I te au manamanata i tetai au baselia i vao mai ia tatou. No teia manamanata, ka anoano’ia tatou kia ‘anga’anga taokotai mate oronga i to tatou tuatau e pera ta tatou ka rauka ite tauturu.

Ka inangaro’ia te arataki’anga e pera te turuturu’anga ate Kavamani no te paruru’anga, tuku’anga tika e pera te arataki’anga tau ite au ravenga ka anoano’ia kia rave’ia e pera te au turuturu’anga ka oronga’ia. Note tuatau poto e pera note tuatau roa.

Ko te mea puapinga roa atu ra – ka inangaro’ia tatou katoatoa – ei iti tangata taokotai, kia anga’anga kapiti na roto i teia tuatau manamanata. To tatou iti tangata takapini ia Rarotonga, te Pa Enua e pini ua ake; to tatou aronga kimi puapinga, te aronga ‘anga’anga katoa; te au arataki ote au Evangelia, te Aronga Mana, te au putuputu’anga a pera to tatou au patana mei te au Basileia takapini ake i teia nei ao.

Tei roto tatou katoatoa i teia, e na roto ite taokotai’anga ka autu tatou. Ka taokotai tatou, kia autu, kia rangatira.

Aka aravei’anga no teia Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu

Ko teia akapapa’anga ravenga moni tauturu o teia ra note Covid-19, te akapapu nei teia e ko te ora’anga e pera te paruru’anga ite iti tangata ko te mea puapinga roa atu te reira. No runga teia ite turanga o te moni e pera katoa te turanga matutu.

Te mataora nei au, te mata ote Kavamani, ite akakite atu e kua akanoo te Kavamani i tetai Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu e $61 mirioni tei akatinamou’ia no te tauturu ite paruru’anga atu ite iti tangata mei teia maki ‘corona virus’ (Covid-19)

E turanga teitei ete matutu tikai teia, irinaki’anga e kote turanga matutu roa atu teia me akaaite’ia kite au akapapa’anga a te au Basileia takapini i teia nei ao, me akaaite’ia tikai na runga ite numero ote tangata e noo nei ki roto ite au Basileia, ko to tatou turanga koia e $4,000 ite tangata okotai. Tuatau manako kore’ia, ka anoano’ia te ravenga manako kore’ia

E toru tu’anga i roto i teia Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu:

1       Tauturu ua atu rai ite au ravenga no te taroaroa’anga atu ite tae’anga mai o teia maki Covid-19 ki to tatou Ipukarea e pera te akamatutu’anga i ta tatou akateateamamao’anga ite tapu’anga ite totoa’anga o teia maki me tae mai; taroaroa atu ite tuatau no te taeanga mai e oti te tapu’anga ete paruru’anga ite toto’anga o teia me tae mai;

2       Akamatutu ite tauturu kia ratou tikai tei vai matiroeroe nei i roto i to tatou iti tangata e pera te tauturu e te paruru’anga ite aronga ‘anga’anga katoatoa;

3       E akapapa’anga moni te ka rauka ite tamaru ite au manamanata te ka tupu poitirere ake kite tu’anga kimi puapinga ete ora’anga ote iti tangata mate oronga ite turanga matutu ite tuatau ki mua e pera note akamatutu akaou ite turanga ote moni e pera katoa no to tatou Basileia kia tu viviki akaou ki runga i roto ite tuatau poto.

E mea puapinga kia kite tatou e kote akapapa’anga note akamatutu akaou ite turanga ote basileia note tuatau rotopu ete tuatau roa, takake te reira ite karere e tuku’ia atu nei i teia ra. Kote Kavamani, arataki’ia ete Tipatimani ote Moni, ka ‘anga’anga kapiti ua atu rai ratou kite au tu’anga ‘anga’anga tukeke note akarakara‘anga i tetai parani akameitaki’anga ite Basileia, te ka tuku’ia atu kite Paramani ite tuatau e akarakara’ia ra te akapapa’anga moni i roto nei ite marama Tiunu

1              1. Akapapa’anga note tauturu viviki atu ‘anga ite tu’anga ote Paruru Maki

Kote tu’anga mua ete puapinga roa atu note turanga o te Covid-19, e ka aere ua atu rai teia ki mua, koia oki kote paruru’anga ite iti tangata mei teia maki.

Kote tu’anga ma’ata roa atu teia ta te Kavamani kia rave. Ko teia akapapa’anga kote mea mua teia e pera kote akapapa’anga meitaki roa atu teia ta matou i akapapa.

Kote au manamanata e tupu nei kite arai’anga ite au teretere’anga kite au Basileia i vao ake ite Kuki Airani, te au arai’anga ite tomo’anga atu ki teia au Basileia kare teia e akara mama ia ana, penei ka riro teia ite tauturu i to tatou iti tangata ite kimi ravenga paruru me pakari ake te turanga o teia maki Covic-19.

Ko to tatou tu’anga puapinga note paruru atu ite maki Covid-19, koia oki kote au kena o to tatou basileia e pera katoa to tatou tu’anga paruru maki.

Ka anoano’ia tatou kia ‘anga’anga ua atu rai ite akamatutu’anga i ta tatou au ravenga akateateamamao e te paruru no te tuatau e tae mai ei teia maki.

Tei roto ite Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu o teia ra e $5 mirioni ka oronga’ia note akamatutu ite turanga ote paruru maki e pera te au ‘anga’anga e rave’ia nei e teia tu’anga paruru maki

Ka tukuia atu teia tauturu takake ki teia au tu’anga:

-         Akamatutu’anga atu ite tu’anga tuku’anga karere ate tu’anga paruru maki note akapapu e te rauka nei ite iti tangata te au karere tau note kimi ravenga ete paruru atu i teia maki kia rauka te ora’anga meitaki, e pera katoa ka akapeea ite noo takake’anga mei tetai ua atu tangata.

-         Akapapu’anga e ka aere ua atu rai te akono’anga ete tauturu’anga ite iti tangata. E rua tu’anga i teia:

  • Akama’ata atu rai ite tauturu ki to tatou iti tangata matiroeroe, pera to te Pa Enua
  • Tauturu ua atu rai ite tu’anga paruru maki note kimi ravenga ete ta’anga’anga ‘anga i teia au akama’ata’anga tauturu.

-         Akamatutu‘anga ite tu’anga akarakara’anga ite au maki tuketuke.

Te inangaro nei au ite akameitaki ite aronga ‘anga’anga ote tu’anga paruru maki, e ‘anga’anga kapiti nei kite Kavamani, te au pitiniti, e pera katoa e kitea ia nei kite au Puna i runga ia Rarotonga e pera takapini ite au Pa Enua no ta kotou ‘anga’anga e rave nei. Akamaroiroi, vaerua okotai, taokotai, ka autu tatou.

I teia atianga nei, te inangaro katoa nei au ite aroa i to tatou au taeke ote au basileia i tai mai ia tatou e tauturu nei i to tatou basileia ite kimi ravenga’anga no teia maki Covid-19 – te Kavamani o Nu Tireni, te Waitemata District Health Board, e pera tikai kite World Health Organisation.

2            2. Ora’anga ote Iti Tangata e pera te Paruru’anga ite Aronga Anga’anga

No runga ite turanga ora’anga meitaki ote iti tangata, ka inangaro au ite akaoki akaou atu ite akakoro’anga ngaueue kore ote Kavamani koia oki kote tuku’anga ite iti tangata na mua.

Ko tetai tu’anga o teia akapapa’anga ravenga moni tauturu, koia oki ka akamatutu atu matou ite turanga ote tauturu ki to tatou iti tangata matiroeroe mei te Pa Metua e koi nei ite moni pakari, te aronga e akono nei ite au matiroeroe e pera katoa ratou kare e rauka ite ‘anga’anga no to ratou turanga apikepike maki.

No teia, ka oronga matou i tetai tutaki’anga moni okotai e $400 ei ravenga note akapapu e ka rauka i teia pupu ite akateateamamao ia ratou no te turanga akamamao’anga me kore aka’atea’anga ia ratou ko ratou anake ua me e uaake e ka tupu teia.

Ko te rua, te ‘anga’anga nei te Kavamani note tauturu ete paruru’anga atu ite aronga ‘anga’anga note akapapu e ka rauka ia ratou ite ‘anga’anga kimi puapinga ua atu rai no to ratou au ngutuare.

Kua kite matou e te vai nei tetai pae, kare e rauka te paruru kia kore a ratou ngai angaanga.

No teia turanga, ka oronga matou na te aronga ka akanoo’ia i ta ratou ngai ‘anga’anga tetai moni tutaki no tetai tai marama. I teia ‘atinga katoa, te ‘anga’anga kapiti atu nei ki te Tipatimani o te Internal Affairs e pera te Immigration Service, note akanoo’anga i tetai au akateretere’anga no te akarakara’anga ete tauturu’anga ito tatou aronga ‘anga’anga, ko ratou tikai, te aronga e ‘anga’anga tara’u nei, e ko ratou tikai te au matiroeroe. Te inangaro nei au ite akapapu e ko tei akanoo’ia mai mei te ngai ‘anga’anga kote ravenga openga te reira.  

Kote tipupu ite aronga ‘anga’anga, ko tetai ravenga kino roa atu teia ite tuatau kare e meitaki ana te turanga ote basileia note mea ka riro teia ite tamanamanata ite akameitaki akaou ‘anga ite turanga ote basileia. E mea puapinga kia ‘anga’anga taokotai tatou i teia au tuatau manako kore’ia. Ka rave, e ka rave ua atu rai te Kavamani i tana tu’anga note tauturu ite aronga kimi puapinga i roto i to tatou basileia, e mea puapinga katoa kia rave te au tu’anga kimi puapinga ite au ‘anga’anga tau.

Kua kite au e, e ma’ata kotou te au metua e ui nei no runga i ta matou au ravenga e me kote mea puapinga roa atu koia ko te paruru ite ora’anga o ta tatou au tamariki, e pera katoa te akapapu’anga e kare e tamanamanata roa ia ta ratou apii. Note au rua epetoma i runga ake ite rua epetoma mua ote orote ite apii, ka tutaki matou taki rua taime ite moni tamariki kite tamaiti okotai.

Ka rauka iaku ite akapapu atu e te ‘anga’anga kapiti nei te Tipatimani ote Apii ki tetai au Tipatimani e pera te au patana e tauturu nei i to tatou basileia no te akatinamou’anga ite rave ua atu’anga ite apii ite mea e ka riro te Covid-19 ite ta roa atu ite topiri’anga ote au apii. Ka rave’ia teia na roto ite ta’anga’anga ‘anga ite au ravenga roro uira ete vai atura e mate ‘anga’anga atu kite au apii note oronga atu ite au ravenga ta’anga’anga mei te mea e ka topiri takiri’ia to tatou basileia. Te tapapa nei te Tipaitimani ote Moni note oronga viviki ite tauturu’anga moni me anoano’ia ake teia..

3. Kote ‘Anga’anga ua atu’anga ete tauturu’anga ite au ngai Kimi Pu’apinga.

Kote toru ote tu’anga ma’ata koia te tauturu ite au ngai Kimi Puapinga.

Ko teia tu’anga o teia Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu, te akatu’anga nei te Kavamani e $22.5 mirioni ei tauturu ite au ngai kimi pu’apinga kia ‘anga’anga ua atu rai.

E manganui te au takai’anga tei akatinamou’ia no te tauturu’anga ite au ngai kimi puapinga note akapapu e kia rauka ia ratou ite ‘anga’anga ua atu rai noatu e kua ta meangiti’ia mai te turanga ote kamupani.

Kote tu’anga mua, ka ‘anga’anga kapiti atu te Kavamani kite au Pangika kia rauka mai tetai tika no tetai tuatau tutaki’anga kore ite au kaiou no tetai 3 marama. Te taitaia nei te iti tangata e au akakaiou’anga ta ratou e ka akapeea ratou ite tutaki’anga i teia au akakaiou’anga. Ka riro i reira teia ravenga ite akamaru ite teimaa e mate tauturu ia tatou kia noo maru ua.

Te kite nei te Kavamani e e tu’anga ma’ata tate au ngutuare turoto rikiriki e rave nei note tu’anga kimi puapinga ote tu’anga turoto ote Kuki Airani nei. Te ma’ata o teia au ona e au kaiou ta ratou kite au Pangika. No te akapapu kia rauka ia ratou e ‘anga’anga ua atu nei rai, ka oronga te Kavamani e $2000 moni tero (tax credit) kite au ngutuare turoto e tai ngauru me kore tei raro ake ite tai ngauru to ratou au roi moe.

Kote rua koia te tutaki’anga ite aronga ‘anga’anga i vao ake ite Kavamani

Ka oronga te Kavamani i tetai tauturu note tutaki’anga ite aronga ‘anga’anga katoatoa tei arapaki’ia e te maki Covid-19 na roto ite tutaki’anga ia ratou kite moni iti rava (minimum wage) a te aronga ‘anga’anga no tetai toru marama. Ko te akakoro’anga o teia tutaki’anga koia note tauturu ite akameangiti ite au apainga teima’a ki runga ite au ona kimi puapinga no runga tikai ite tutaki’anga ite aronga ‘anga’anga.

Kapiti katoa’ia ki teia, me ka anoano te au ngai kimi puapinga ite ta’anga’anga i teia tuatau note tereni ite aronga ‘anga’anga, ka oronga te Kavamani ite tutaki’anga moni ‘anga’anga no tetai toru akaou marama ei tauturu note au ravenga tereni’anga. Mei te mea e ka anoano’ia te aronga ‘anga’anga kia akatakake’ia no tetai rua epetoma, ka tutaki te Kavamani na roto ite tutaki’anga moni iti rava no teia tuatau akatakake’anga.

Ko te toru koia te oronga’anga moni ki te au kamupani kimi puapinga tei arapaki’ia e teia maki. Ka rauka ite au ngai kimi puapinga ite pati i tetai tauturu mei te $15,000 e oki mai ki raro, te vai nei te au takai’anga no runga i teia, e ka rauka ite au mata mei roto mai i te Tipatimani ote Moni ite akamarama atu i te reira.

No runga i teia tero tei karanga’ia e ko te Provinsional Tax Adjustment, kua anoano te Kavamani ite tutaki viviki atu i teia tero kia ratou tei ma’ata atu ta ratou tero i tutaki. Kua papa toku Tipatimani ite oronga atu ite au akamarama’anga kia ratou tei anoano i teia.

Kapiti katoa’ia mai ki teia, kote kotinga ote Provisional Tax ka akakake’ia atu teia mei te $2,000 kite $5,000. Inangaro au ite akamaara kia kotou, me te teima’a nei koe ite tutaki’anga i taau tero, ka pati au kia tika kia aravei mai ite tuanga ote RMD, kua papa ratou note tauturu i ta kotou au kimi marama.

Te akapapu katoa nei te Kavamani e ka akatopa’ia te tutaki’anga ote tutaki’anga tinamou ote Superannuation Fund mei te 5 petene kite 3 petene nate katoatoa no tetai tuatau e toru marama e tae atu kite marama Tiunu 2020. Ka taui’ia teia tutaki’anga me ka taui ake te turanga.

Ei taopenga, e rekareka maata toku ite akakite atu e, ei ravenga tauturu ite akaiti ite apainga ki roto ite au ngutuare e pera kite aronga kimi puapinga tei akatupu’ia ete maki Covid-19, ka akatopa te Te Aponga Uira ite tutaki’anga ote uira ki te au ngutuare e 100 petene e kite au pitiniti kimi puapinga e 60 petene i Rarotonga nei, akamata kite tatau’anga uira mei te Paraparau 19 o Mati e tae ua atu kite marama Tiunu i teia mataiti. Ka oronga katoa atu teia ki te enua o Aitutaki, e 100 petene kite katoatoa e ta’anga’anga nei ite uira.

Kapiti katoa ia mai ki teia, kua piri katoa mai te kamupani Vodafone ki teia akateretere’anga, e akapapu’anga teia ete ‘anga’anga kapiti nei tatou. No reira kote iti tangata, te aronga kimi puapinga rikiriki, te au taokotai’anga e pera te au putuputu’anga, ko teia te au tauturu ka rauka:

Ko te au parani a te au Pa Metua, kare e tutaki’anga note toru marama mei te ra tai o Mati. Kare e tutaki’anga note tarau’anga (line rental) ite au teriponi ngutuare ate katoatoa mei te ra 1 o Mati; kote tuatau note tutaki’anga ite au akapou’anga (postpaid) ka akatere’ia teia mei te 30 ra kite 90 ra; kare e tamate’ia te teriponi a te aronga e manamanata nei ite tua ote moni; e 50 petene ka akaiti’ia te tutaki’anga ite au taniuniu’anga ite teriponi ngutuare e pera te teriponi apaipai i roto i to tatou pa enua no tetai toru marama (prepaid ete postpaid). Ko te au aronga turanga meitaki teka ta’i’i kia tika kia aravei atu ite kamupani Vodafone.

Taopenga

Ei ta openga, ka inangaro au ite akateima’a e ko tate Kavamani Akapapa’anga Ravenga Moni Tauturu mua teia no to tatou turanga, e pera no te au mea e anoano viviki’ia nei..

Ko teia au ravenga, kua akapapa’ia tea note akamatutu i ta tatou au ravenga akateateamamao’anga, ta tatou tauturu ki to tatou iti tangata matiroeroe e pera te akamatutu ite au kaveinga ka anoano’ia note akameitaki akaou i to tatou basileia me atea ake teia manamanata.

Ka rave ua atu rai te Kavamani ite akarakara matatio i teia au ravenga tei akapapa’ia e te akanoo nei i tetai au kaveinga e pera te au takai’anga note paruru ia tatou note 12 marama ki mua. Te teateamamao ia nei tetai au ravenga takake mei te mea e ka roa atu teia tamanamanata’anga.

Ka kapiti’ia atu ki teia, tetai au matara kia rauka mai tetai tutaki’anga mama ote au moni tei tarau’ia ete au kamupani kimi puapinga katoatoa. Ka riro teia ite tauturu kia ‘anga’anga ua atu rai teia au kamupani no tetai tuatau roa. Ka akarakara katoa’ia te turanga ote tero te ka riro ite tauturu, kapiti atu i teia te taui’anga ite tuanga note takore’anga ite au apinga mama’ata (asset-writeoff) ate au kamupani, taui’anga ite tutaki’anga tero, ko te akapapa’anga o teia te rave’ia nei rai te reira e toku pupu. Inangaro ra au ite akapapu kite iti tangata e e turanga matutu to tatou note akama’ata atu ite tauturu no te tu’anga ote moni me e ua ake e ka anoano’ia, e no te tuatau roa.

Ko taku ka inangaro ite akaruke no tatou katoatoa, koia oki e kote tuatua tika rava e kote apinga puapinga roa atu o tetai ua atu basileia, koia, e kare atu, ko tona iti tangata. E tuatua tika rava teia no tatou te Kuki Airani.

Kua aravei ana tatou i tetai au manamanata i mua ana – te mamae tei tupu ite au mataiti ote 1990’s, te tuatau i akatanotano’ia ei te Kavamani, te uriia Sally, te turanga kino ote moni o teianei ao – I teia au tuatau kua kite’ia te au tu meitaki o te iti tangata Kuki Airani ite aere’anga mai ki vao.

Kua kite tatou e ko to tatou tu tiratiratu, ete rangatira tei oronga’ia mai e tei ‘anga ia tatou, to tatou Atua, te vai nei te turanga taii ete paruparu. Inara, ko to tatou iti tangata teia e oronga mai nei ite akamaroiroi, te ngakau aroa e pera te inangaro tetai ki tetai, te ka riro teia ite akatinamou ite ora’anga matutu ete tiratiratu ki to tatou Ipukarea – note akapapu e ko tatou, te iti tangata, ka ora tatou e ka matutu, mei ta tatou i rave ite au tuatau i topa.

E kapiki’anga teia naku kia tatou tatakitai – te iti tangata o to tatou basileia meangiti, inara e basileia matutu – kia taokotai mai tatou note akaiti’anga ite ravenga kino ta teia maki Covid-19 ka rave ki runga i to tatou ora’anga, e pera kia akaiti i tana tamanamanata’anga ka rave kite ora’anga e pera te turanga kimi puapinga o to tatou basileia. Kare te ‘anga’anga ate toko iti e rava note au ravenga paruru inara kote ‘anga’anga ate katoatoa ote iti tangata ka rava te reira. Ko ta te Te Aponga Uira i oronga mai, e akara’anga teia i te au tu tauturu te ka rauka mai na roto ite ‘anga’anga taokotai’anga.

Na roto ite ‘anga’anga taokotai’anga ate tua ote Kavamani, te aronga kimi puapinga, te iti tangata e pera te au basileia e tauturu nei ia tatou – na roto i tetai turanga teitei ete viviki – e rauka ei ia tatou te paruru me kore te akaiti ite manamanata ta teia turanga maki ka akatupu.

Te Atua Te Aroa.


Address by Acting Prime Minister Hon. Mark Brown at the Cook Islands national prayer service for COVID-19)

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GOVERNMENT OF THE COOK ISLANDS
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Address by Acting Prime Minister the Hon. Mark Brown
Cook Islands National Prayer Service for Corona Disease (COVID-19)
Sunday 15 March 2020, 5pm

Kia Orana tatou katoatoa i te aroa maata o to tatou Atua

These are unprecedented times and we as a people and country must be prepared to take unprecedented actions to protect our people.

The seating for our gathering today is social distancing. We will get better at it and it is absolutely vital we all prioritise practicing social distancing. It may well save your life or that of a loved one.

Today around the world we are seeing the impacts of the corona virus. Those countries that followed the advice of their health professionals and experts to practice social distancing, washing of hands, avoiding crowded events, practicing self-isolation are seeing the benefits of reduced rates of infection. Those countries that delayed implementing these practices are now seeing their health services being overwhelmed and there most vulnerable dying as a result.

Social distancing, clean hygienic practices, protecting our borders are some of the measures that we as a country have started to do. And we must do it now we want to protect ourselves and our vulnerable.
Cabinet met this afternoon and yesterday to consider a range of significant decisions to further protect the health of all Cook Islanders, Cook Islands residents and people and reduce the threat of transmission of COVID-19 in the Cook Islands.

These decisions have not been taken lightly by Cabinet and have been made with the ultimate objective of keeping our people safe from the effects of the corona disease.

COVID-19 is a global pandemic which has presented all countries, even the most powerful, with unprecedented challenges and catastrophic effects. These challenges require of our government decisive, considered and unprecedented response measures.

Before I outline the decisions taken by Cabinet this afternoon, I wish to provide some context to our decisions.

First – as of 5pm today, the Cook Islands does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
We should all be grateful for the diligence and vigilance of our officials, volunteers and those on the ground working hard at strengthening our planning and preparation for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19. We must take advantage of this precious time we have been blessed with by acting now to reduce the chance of this virus spreading when it arrives into the Cook Islands.

Second – here are the facts as provided via the World Health Organisation (WHO).

As of Friday, more than 130,000 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed globally in 117 countries with some 5,000 deaths. Today, there have been more than 162,000 cases confirmed in 146 countries. Between Friday and today, a mere 2 days, more than 25,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, 29 new countries have been effected and 977 new deaths. COVID-19 is spreading fast, and no country seems to be immune to its effects.

Third – our COVID-19 response efforts to date have been a combination of measures aimed at restricting the virus coming here through travel restrictions and preparing our health response systems and communities when it does get here.

We were amongst one of the first countries to implement travel restrictions at the border. Led by our National Health Emergency Taskforce (NHET), and working closely with domestic and international agencies, private sector, NGOs and most significantly our communities, through our puna in Rarotonga and the pa enua, we have thus far managed to keep COVID-19 out of our country.

It is right we gather this afternoon for this national prayer service to give thanks to our heavenly father for our blessings and to ask for his continued divine protection.

BUT we must also ourselves, individually and collectively, do more. In many respects, given the global magnitude of COVID-19 and its impacts on all countries, we must rely on ourselves first and foremost. Let us all strengthen our resolve, elevate co-operation and pull together.

It is against this backdrop that Cabinet have taken the following additional measures to further protect our people against COVID-19.

Travel restrictions

As of midnight tomorrow Monday 16 March 2020, every person travelling from or transiting through any country except New Zealand within 14 days prior to travel must have self-quarantined for a minimum of 14 days in New Zealand prior to travel to the Cook Islands. This restriction does not apply to those in the Cook Islands who have only travelled from the Cook Islands to New Zealand within 14 days prior to entry or re-entry to the Cook Islands. This restriction will remain in effect through to Saturday 18 April.
Further, Cabinet approved the postponement of direct flights from French Polynesia, Australia and the United States.

This decision places the Cook Islands amongst a handful of countries, a number of them Pacific Islands, with the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions in the world.

We are encouraging all Cook Islanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas to help reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 back with them. Effective henceforth, Ministers, Members of Parliament and all public servants will be restricted from travelling overseas. 

We accept that for Cook Islanders and Cook Islands residents overseas this is a stressful time and we encourage those needing consular assistance to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
At this juncture, may I on behalf of Government and the people of the Cook Islands acknowledge with deep gratitude the leadership shown and support extended by the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand in her announcement of travel restrictions and strengthening of border measures on Friday. New Zealand’s COVID-19 travel restrictions and screening of departures to the Pacific provide significant additional protection to the Cook Islands and the Pacific. These are warmly welcomed, as is New Zealand’s continued assistance through multiple portals towards the Cook Islands COVID-19 response efforts. Meitaki maata.  

In addition to restrictions on air travel we are also taking firm measures on cruise ships.

As of midnight tonight, we are issuing a directive to all cruise ships not to come to the Cook Islands until at least 30 June 2020, at which time the directive will be reviewed. The temporary ban will also apply to leisure crafts and yachts.

I want to be clear – these measures relating to air and sea travel are about people, not products. The travel restrictions do not apply to cargo ships or cargo planes or to marine or air crew. Our officials have been working closely with airlines, shippers and wholesales/retailers to ensure we as much as possible minimize air and sea freight routes disruptions while prioritising public health considerations.
We did not take these decisions lightly.

We know these air and sea travel restrictions will place significant strain on airlines and particularly our tourism industry but it is important to note that many of the economic and commercial consequences of COVID-19 have been externally imposed on our country, industry and people. That is the nature of this global pandemic that is COVID-19. Government will continue to work very closely with airlines and our private sector, including banks, to mitigate wherever possible the impacts of these restrictions and COVID-19 effects.

I will as Finance Minister announce a comprehensive economic response, including business continuity package in the week ahead.

Economic considerations

Make no mistake – there will be an economic downturn.

How we position and protect our people and our businesses will be important. The previous years of economic growth has put our country in a good position to support our people and our businesses. We established our Economic Stabilisation fund specifically for events such this pandemic. We have NZ$56million in the Stabilisation fund. Our emergency response fund of NZ$10million can be drawn from immediately. Our debt position as a country is healthy and provides us access to the Asian Development Bank to support our response and recovery to Covid-19 in the coming months.

Our officials, led by the Financial Secretary and Ministry of Finance and Economic Management officials, working closely with government agencies, big and small businesses, the transport sector, the banks, importers have been sourcing and collecting critical data to inform the development of a comprehensive economic response plan which I will announce in the next couple of days. The economic response plan will prioritise people, protecting livelihoods and supporting business continuity.

Social distancing measures

The Health Minister will in the week ahead elaborate a suite of additional health measures to scale up the responsiveness of our health system to the virus including the public information campaign and various social distancing measures.

These measures, while disruptive, are needed to create the space we need as a nation to prepare and manage the spread of COVID-19.
We all have obligations to limit the spread of the virus and basic health measures is at the heart of that.

Social distancing practices, reducing person-to-person contact can slow or stop the spread of infectious disease such as COVID-19.
Led by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Emergency Taskforce, government will continue to increase community support to those most vulnerable, including in our pa enua.

In Rarotonga for example, we are working closely with our Puna and community groups to implement strong public health interventions to help limit the spread of infection in the community. Such measures include avoiding large gatherings of people who are in close proximity with each other, such as sporting activities and cultural events. Some churches have cancelled Sunday services, while others have taken measures to limit the risk of spread especially from singing,
Cabinet in their discussions this afternoon agreed school holidays in Rarotonga only will be brought forward to Monday 23 March 2020. Our teachers will use the week ahead to reinforce hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing practices with students, so that they can practice these at home with their families during the school holidays.

The single most important thing each of us can do is to wash our hands with soap and water on a regular basis. The combination of soap and water kills COVID-19 dead in its tracks.
I’m asking all of us, including those listening in to help me carry this message to every man, woman and child in the Cook Islands. A thorough and effective handwashing takes 20 seconds –– and with this simple act, you may very well be saving a life.

We’ll also need to break the habit of shaking hands and hugging. Instead, simply share a “kia orana” from a safe distance and limit in-person contact as much as possible. 
This isn’t just about protecting yourself, this is about responsibility –– your responsibility to the well-being of our people.
While the steps we can take as individuals are critical, to be effective, the preparations for COVID-19 must be society-wide. We need everyone aware of the risks and actively participating in our nationwide response.

Because the sobering reality is that, while we have yet to see a COVID-19 case in our country, there is a significant portion of our population that is already vulnerable to coronavirus. Those with pre-existing conditions and NCDs –– like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer –– are at a higher risk of death by COVID-19.
So, I encourage all Cook Islanders to use this moment to make lasting lifestyle changes to improve your health –– by doing so, you are guarding yourself and those you love from COVID-19, and other communicable and non-communicable disease alike. 

Government will continue to work closely with our hotel and tourism partners to help identify, isolate and treat any visitors who may be experiencing symptoms of the virus. With our flows of tourism under close supervision, we will continue supporting those who depend on the tourism sector for their livelihoods. 
As we work hand-in-hand with our tourism operators and other business leaders to combat the coronavirus, we hear their very serious worries about the impact the situation will have on their business. As the outbreak worsens and travel restrictions heighten, people are travelling less. Supply chains as well are seeing major disruptions. As a result, many nations of all sizes will likely see their economies contract.  
This is not a time for panic, but a time for prudence and solidarity. Government has already made a number of critical unbudgeted expenditures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s clear we need to reassess our spending priorities for the remainder of the financial year. 

As Finance Minister, in addition to announcing a comprehensive economic response, including business continuity package in the next couple of days, I will table in the comings weeks a COVID-19 Budget which will lay out governments economic and financial plan for protecting our people and supporting Cook Islands businesses and livelihoods through what will be a difficult time. Leading up to that budget, I will continue to work closely with private sector and our communities to ensure we get it right.

Let me conclude with this.

Ultimately, when it comes to our people’s wellbeing, our economic security and the preservation of our way of life, we are all in this together.

These are unprecedented times – and we as a country must be prepared to take unprecedented actions to protect our people, support business continuity and this can only be done when we all work together. Let us focus on doing what is possible, individually and collectively. When we do the possible, God does the impossible. Let us work. Let us work together.

Meitaki maata e kia manuia tatou katoatoa