The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has provided parameters for a regional Travel Bubble among the OECS countries and territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, Anguilla and British Virgin Islands, and Barbados.
This Travel Bubble is for facilitating movement of nationals, essential workers, and visitors to the area who have followed the requisite health procedures.
All travellers, whether transiting or flying direct must present upon arrival, a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test performed within seven (7) days of their flight. All incoming travellers to these countries will also be subject to a mandatory health screening upon arrival though they will not be subject to quarantine.
Passport holders of these countries can, of course, take advantage of this travel bubble for inter-CARICOM travel.
- European Union
The “Re-open EU” initiative was implemented for controlled travel within the border-free Schengen Area and Britain. Though specific rules differ for each country, the general rule is that EU nationals and residents are able to travel amongst the listed countries with little restrictions.
The initiative operates on a red-orange-green colour system with each country being assigned a colour based on the epidemiological situation on the ground. A country is coded as green if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 cases per 100,000 persons and the test positivity rate below 4%; orange if the rate is lower than 50 cases per 100,000 but the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or, if the rate is between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 4%; and red if the rate is 50 cases per 100,000 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or if the rate is higher than 150 cases per 100,000. Alternatively, a country can be coded as grey if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100,000.
All participating countries of the Re-open EU Initiative have a common framework when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions, and protocols for travellers incoming from “red” colour-coded countries. Individuals with citizenship or residency of an EU country, such as Spain, France, Greece, Latvia, Portugal, Turkey, or Ireland could then experience travel to other EU countries with relative ease. Given the fluctuation of the situation, we nevertheless strongly advise any travellers to verify the latest travel protocols with the appropriate authorities before embarking on their next journey.
Non-EU nationals or residents travelling to the EU will likely be denied entry unless their country is listed as an exception to this travel ban. Current countries exempt from the EU travel ban include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, and China (including Hong Kong and Macao, subject to confirmation of reciprocity).
- United Kingdom
Similar to the Re-Open EU Initiative, the UK has adopted a travel bubble policy for certain countries and regions. Though nationals of these areas will still need to complete the passenger locator form before entry into the UK, they need not self-isolate.
All other travellers, including UK residents and persons who have transited through a non-exempt country via air, must still self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival into the UK.
- United States of America
The United States are in negotiations with the UK for establishing a travel bubble between New York and London beginning in 2021.Though the US is not listed as a country exempt of quarantine measures by the UK, the two countries are attempting to establish this travel bubble in light of the growing availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the US.
In any case, US residents and travellers departing from the US will need to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test before and after a flight to the UK.
- Hong Kong
Hong Kong had previously established a travel bubble with Singapore that allowed travel within these two areas without the need for quarantine provided that the traveller provide a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and being subject to another COVID-19 test upon arrival.
Travellers from both places were optimistic at this emerging travel bubble, but this excitement was curtailed with the announcement of delays for this travel bubble to at least beyond December 2020, amidst rising COVID-19 infection numbers in Hong Kong.
From the current analysis of the countries and areas operating COVID-19 travel bubbles, it is evident that travel bubble policies are subject to much fluctuation dependent on the rise and fall of COVID-19 infection in both the departure and destination country. They will require vigilant monitoring but do, nevertheless, provide a pathway (and perhaps a new understanding) of global mobility. Though fragile, these travel bubbles are growing in application and do not seem likely to burst just yet.
If you would like further advice or information on the travel bubble policies of each country listed, please verify with the respective immigration and border services agencies.
The interactive map graphic by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also referenced by immigration and border service agencies for air travel regulations per country: https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/world.php.