Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda, have started operating the CARICOM Travel Bubble, with the hope of resuscitating the travel and tourism sectors.
A statement from Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, said the bubble went into effect on Friday, September 18, in keeping with a decision made at a Special Emergency CARICOM Heads of Government meeting one week before.
The key feature of the COVID-19 travel bubble is that people entitled to participate are not required to take COVID-19 tests nor to undergo a period of quarantine.
“Our CARICOM Heads of Government took a major step towards resuscitating the COVID-19 challenged travel and tourism sectors, with their agreement to institute a travel bubble among CARICOM member states and associate members which meet the agreed criteria from Friday, 18 September 2020,” the statement said.
The Heads of Government took the decision at a Special Emergency Session on September 11, at which they acknowledged that the past six months have been very challenging as countries globally have struggled to cope with the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
They noted that for CARICOM, it has been particularly difficult, given the high dependence on the travel and tourism sectors.
In agreeing to establish the bubble, the heads were guided by recommendations in a comprehensive report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
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 number 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; and CARPHA will assess relevant data to advise on participation.
It was agreed that travellers from countries within the bubble would be allowed entry without being subjected to PCR testing prior to arrival and would also not have to undergo quarantine restrictions. “Travellers may, however, have to be subjected to screening on arrival. Such travellers should, however, have been resident in a bubble country [or should not have travelled to a country outside of the bubble] at least 14 days prior to the date of travel,” the statement said.
CARICOM Governments agreed that initially Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be in the bubble as they presently meet the criteria.
Other member states and associate members will be allowed to participate when they meet the criteria.