The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has begun operating a regional ‘travel bubble’ as part of efforts to resuscitate the travel and tourism sectors, which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement from Barbados’ Ambassador to Caricom, David Comissong, the travel bubble took effect on Friday, September 18.
The initiative includes Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, states that currently satisfy the criteria agreed upon at a Special Emergency Caricom Heads of Government Meeting.
Other member states and associate members will be allowed to participate when they meet the criteria, the statement added.
The defining feature of a COVID-19 Travel Bubble is that persons entitled to participate in the Travel Bubble are not required to take COVID-19 tests nor to undergo a period of quarantine in order to travel to countries that are within the Bubble.
These measures, approved by the Caricom heads of government based on a study by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which provided recommendations on how the bubble would operate, and laid out the eligibility criteria for countries to participate.
The recommendations included that countries would be categorised ranging from those with no cases to those which had low, medium, high and very high risk with respect to the rate of positive cases over a 14-day period; the level of risk would be determined by the amount of positive cases per 100,000 of the population within a 14-day period; only those countries with no cases and those in the low risk category would be allowed to participate in the bubble; and CARPHA will assess relevant data to advise on participation in the bubble.
Caricom leaders acknowledged at the September 11 meeting that the last six months have been very challenging globally and regionally due to the pandemic and the severe damages caused to the travel and tourism sector.