What is a Travel Bubble and Why Should I Care?
We’re sliding into month six of this pandemic, and like many would-be travellers, you might be suffering two extra afflictions on top of everything else right now: Covid news fatigue and travel terminology overload. ‘Travel bubble’ is a term you’ve probably heard a few times over the last couple of months. So what it is a travel bubble and why should it matter to you?
A travel bubble, often referred to as a travel corridor (or sometimes, a Corona corridor), is an exclusive partnership between nations, states or provinces that have collectively handled the pandemic in such a a way that numbers have maintained relatively low, and there are protocols in place to continue to manage the pandemic. These geographic areas create ‘corridors’ or travel bubbles between them, allowing travelers to travel back and forth without having to go into quarantine upon arrival.
Travel bubbles may be the key to opening nations up to tourism, however, there are still some risks and some barriers. The requirements to travel between travel bubbles or corridors are often quite strict (and can be costly), so you’ll want to pay close attention to what the requirements may be before booking that ticket. Canada, unfortunately, does not yet have any official international travel bubbles as of yet. We are able to travel to a number of nations, but upon return, Canadian citizens are still required to self-quarantine for 14 days (As of August 3, 2020).
However, if you are able to complete the 14 day quarantine when you arrive back in Canada, or, you arer currently living abroad, there are a number of travel bubbles, corridors and ‘green lanes’ that either already exist between two or more geographical areas, or they are in the early stages of a multi-phase plan to do so. Here are a few updates on travel bubbles we’ve had our eye on around the world:
Australia – New Zealand
There is little good news for travelers outside of this region, however, the two nations were in current talks about how to negotiate the fall travel season. What was to be the Trans-Tasman travel bubble was set to be implemented some time in September, but due to an uptick in cases in the Australian state of Victoria, New Zealand premier, Jacinda Ardern, has called off talks until Australia has gained control of the latest outbreak.
Cook Islands – New Zealand
Though there is no official travel bubble in place, there was an important meeting on July 13 that discussed the possibility of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the collective of islands. The Cook islands have not had a case of COVID-19 since April, and with New Zealand’s prompt handling of their small outbreak, this would be a very low risk corridor.
Indonesia – China, South Korea, Japan, Australia
During a regular travel year, these five nations would see tens of millions of travellers flowing through eachother’s airports. This would be a vital travel bubble. And as a tourism plays such an essential role in Indonesia’s economic survival, as well as business travel and international students, this potential new partnership would have a significant impact.
Japan and the Rest of Asia
Japan has been on a fast track to negotiating easing travel restrictions for business travellers from at least 12 Asian countries including Singapore, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, just to name a few. There is no date set yet for the pan-Asian travel bubble, but if a second wave can be avoided, it could be sooner than we think.
On July 2, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports confirmed that Thailand would be taking a different approach to the travel bubble. They would be implementing a a three-phase approach that would invite travellers from lower risk nations to enter the country as soon as this month. In the first phase, travellers would be restricted to specific regions or cities such as Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. In the second and third phase, the restrictions would be loosened, allowing travellers to explore more of the country.
This is a a region the whole world has been watching with bated breath.
Denmark – Norway
These two nations established a travel bubble between them early on, but excluded Sweden. Sweden’s laissez faire attitude towards combating Covid-19 has kept them on the “unsafe” list for months. However, recently, travel has been permitted between Denmark and Sweden, but only between certain regions, and there are restrictions to consider. To date, Sweden still boasts the highest rate of infection and the highest Covid death count in Scandinavia.
Croatia – Slovenia
These two Baltic states were able to salvage some of their tourism losses by forming a travel bubble early on. Back in May 2020, both nations formed a quarantine-free agreement that made it easier for tourists to plan and enjoy a restriction-free holiday.
UK and the Rest of the World
Many UK travellers were eager to enjoy the beaches of Spain and Spain, the piazzas of Italy and the slightly less crowded streets of Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nice. However, that list went through a number of edits as there was an unexpected uptick in Covid cases. Currently, France, Italy and Germany made the list, but for a complete list of who is exempt from self-isolation upon arrival in the United Kingdom, visit here.
This region seems to be a bit of a puzzle in terms of who can come and go. There were a few island nations that opened to American travellers, then were forced back into restrictions because of an increase in cases. Aruba, for example, has re-opened it’s borders to travellers from neighbouring islands (except Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Europe, Canada and the United States (but with restrictions). There is currently a list of 24 American states that require Arubian-bound travellers to take a PCR test and upload their results before they land in Aruba.
Antigua & Barbuda
A travel bubble between Antigua and Barbuda has opened up to include several nations within the CARICOM (Caribbean Community), and these community members are not required to show test results upon arrival. These travel bubbles are of course in flux as cases of Covid may or may not increase. This particular travel bubble also extends to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados and Jamaica.
Important to note*
As of July 16, the EU Council has to include the following countries
One last thing to remember – If you are planning a multi-country holiday, it’s important to let us know in advance so we can ensure at the time of booking that you meet all of the restriction requirements to travel between each country. And remember, rules and regulations can change very quickly, so it’s always important to check the government website of each country to ensure you meet any and all requirements.
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