Federation still to determine date for implementation of ‘CARICOM Bubble’

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws called for a careful balance between public health measures and the facilitation of economic activity.
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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – A significant step toward reviving the COVID-19 challenged travel and tourism sectors, with agreement to institute a Travel Bubble among Caribbean Community member states and associate members was taken on September 18 by the CARICOM Heads of Government. St. Kitts and Nevis, however, has not yet agreed to an implementation date as its borders remain closed.

“The Heads of Government of CARICOM including our own prime minister would have agreed in principle to a regional travel bubble. However, we must note that the Federation’s borders remain closed and so the implementation date as announced does not apply to the Federation,” said Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer at the September 23 National Emergency Operations Centre Briefing.

Dr. Laws shared some of the eligibility criteria for countries to participate.

“Only those territories where there are no reported COVID-19 cases or those territories with low risk – meaning those territories that meet these criteria whereby there is a COVID-19 case notification rate of less than 20 new cases per 1,000 population within the last 14-day period – will be eligible to be a part of this CARICOM bubble,” said Dr. Laws. “The territories must have adequate quarantine and isolation sites for persons who are asymptomatic or mildly affected by COVID-19 and these facilities must be separate from the facilities that are designated for visitors and tourists.”

Dr. Laws indicated that the islands within the Bubble must have “adequate resources to threat severe. Critical cases and these islands must each have similar pre-arrival screening requirements and health screening procedures on arrival at the airports. There must be a centralized posting, communication platform or national website where anyone can find the requirements for the countries within the CARICOM bubble.”

Travellers participating in the bubble are not required to take a pre-arrival RT-PCR test nor undergo a period of quarantine in order to travel to countries that are within the Bubble. However, travellers will be subjected to screening on arrival.

It is important to note, Dr. Laws added that travellers should have been resident to a Bubble country or should not have travelled to a country outside of the Bubble for at least 14-21 days prior to the date of travel.

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines initially agreed to the Bubble. As of September 22, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados have all put their arrangements in place and have commenced operating the Travel Bubble. The other Member States and Associate Members will be allowed to participate when they meet the criteria.

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