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Media Release - Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Tuesday 17, 2020

“When we do the possible, God does the impossible – let’s work, and work together” - Cook Islands National Prayer Service for Covid-19”

“When we do the possible, God does the impossible – let’s work, and work together”.

This was the concluding message from Acting Prime Minister Mark Brown speaking on behalf of Government at a National Prayer Service hosted by the Cook Islands Religious Advisory Council (RAC) at the National Auditorium on Sunday 15 March 2020.

The Service, led by the RAC, paid tribute to the many lives lost globally to the global pandemic novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and called on Cook Islands government, business, communities, churches and traditional groups throughout the Cook Islands and beyond to unite in adhering to public health messages put out by Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health relating to Covid-19 response, preparedness and working collaboratively to keep all Cook Islands residents and visitors safe.

The Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) prefaced an outline of recent key cabinet decisions with an overview of the global impact of COVID-19, “Covid-19 has killed thousands of people worldwide and no country is immune to its effects. If we look at the impact of the virus on the countries around the world, we can see those countries that were early in practicing social distancing, clean hygiene, self-isolation and strict travel restrictions have had the lowest rates of infection. We all have obligations to limit the spread of the virus and basic health measures is at the heart of that”.

The DPM outlined key recent decisions taken by Cabinet as part of Government’s overall national response to Covid-19. These included:

- Significant strengthening of international travel and border restrictions – for full details, see In summary:

o requirement of 14 days self-quarantine in New Zealand for all travelers looking to travel to the Cook Islands having originated from or transited through any country, other than New Zealand (such quarantine restrictions will not apply to travelers who have only travelled from the Cook Islands to New Zealand) – to take effect from 18 March through to 18 April;

o Temporary ban on the entry of all cruise ships, yachts and leisure crafts to the Cook Islands through to 30 June 2020;

o Postponement of direct flights from French Polynesia, Australia and the United States

- Social distancing measures to be outlined by Te Marae Ora in the coming days, follow details

- Bringing forward of school holidays on Rarotonga only to Monday 23 March 2020, for more info, follow the Ministry of Education page at

The DPM in his remarks reassured those in attendance the prioritization by Government of development of a comprehensive Covid-19 economic response plan which will be announced this week. “Make no mistake – there will be an economic downturn. How we position and protect our people and our businesses will be important. The economic response plan will prioritise people, supporting our most vulnerable, protecting livelihoods and supporting business continuity,” said the DPM. Development of the economic response plan has been led by the Financial Secretary Garth Henderson and Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) officials working closely with government agencies, big and small business, the transport sector, the banks, importers and sourcing and collecting critical data.

In concluding his remarks, the DPM emphasized, “This is not a time for panic, but a time for prudence and solidarity. Ultimately, when it comes to our people’s well-being, our economic security and the preservation of our way of live, we are all in this together. When we do the possible, God does the impossible – let’s work, and work together”.

The full text of the DPM’s remarks can be found on the MFEM website at

and is available on the Ministry of Culture (MoC) livestreamed coverage

The time and manner of announcement on the comprehensive Covid-19 economic response plan will be advised shortly.

Queries regarding contents of this release can be emailed to Antonina Browne at phone 29347


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