TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO -– Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government officials have taken a major step toward resuscitating the COVID-19 challenged travel and tourism sectors by initiating a ‘Travel Bubble’ agreement that takes effect September 18. The agreement will be initiated in CARICOM member states and associate members.
The decision occurred on September 11 during a special emergency session at which they acknowledged that the past six months have been a very challenging period globally and regionally, as countries have struggled to cope with the effects of the novel coronavirus. They noted that for CARICOM, it has been particularly difficult, given the high dependence in most of the economies on the travel and tourism sectors.
In agreeing to establish the Bubble, the Heads were guided by a comprehensive report from 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.
The government heads agreed that travellers from countries within the Bubble will be allowed entry without being subjected to PCR testing prior to arrival and would also not have to undergo quarantine restrictions. Travellers may however be subjected to screening on arrival.
It was agreed that initially, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint 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.