CARICOM Heads of Government have taken a major step towards resuscitating the COVID19 challenged travel and tourism sectors, with agreement to institute a Travel Bubble among CARICOM Member States and Associate Members which meet the agreed criteria from Friday 18 September 2020..
The Heads took the decision at a Special Emergency Session on Friday 11 September, 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.
Heads of Government 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 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.
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines issued the following Statement on the outcome of the Special Emergency Session (VIDEO).