‘Travel Bubbles’ starting to Replace Quarantines Around The World

For weeks now, Australia and New Zealand have been talking about forming a travel bubble. China is considering allowing Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in its bubble, while Israel is in bubble talk with Greece and Cyprus. Three Baltic countries just created the first European travel bubble, and now authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport have recommended that Britain get its own travel bubble.





All around the world, as countries decide how to restart international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of a travel bubble — sometimes called a travel corridor — is gaining steam.


The notion is simple: Two or more countries that have successfully curtailed COVID-19 agree to create a bubble. People who live inside the bubble could then travel freely and avoid a mandatory self-quarantine requirement. Such a move would cut red tape so people can cross borders with minimum hassle.


Last week, three European countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — opened their borders to each other to create a Baltic bubble. Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said in a statement that this was “an opportunity for businesses to reopen, and a glimmer of hope for the people that life is getting back to normal.” Other travelers — even fellow Europeans — arriving from outside the bubble still must self-isolate for 14 days.



Australia and New Zealand are a natural fit for sharing the proposed “Trans-Tasman bubble.” Citizens of one country can work in the other without a visa, and there’s typically a high volume both business and leisure travel between the two countries. But more importantly, both countries shut their borders almost completely to foreign travelers in March, and have both managed to keep COVID-19 outbreaks under control.


While it isn’t clear when Australia and New Zealand would implement a travel bubble, experts have estimated that it will not happen until August at the earliest. Right now, both countries still have domestic travel restrictions in place, along with a 14-day quarantine requirement for international visitors.


“Of course, our number one focus at the moment is making sure that both our countries are in the position where we're domestically managing COVID-19 to a point where we can with confidence open borders,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in late April. “One thing I'm not willing to do is jeopardize the position that New Zealand has got itself into by moving too soon to open our borders — even to Australia.”


Meanwhile, Beijing is considering expanding its “travel bubble” covering mainland China to include Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau as well as South Korea, reported the Asia Times. And Israel is planning to get in a bubble with Greece and Cyprus, per the Times of Israel.

Today, the United Kingdom’s largest airport also proposed a travel bubble, saying it would be less damaging to the economy than the current quarantine policy. “The proposal would create ‘travel corridors’ or ‘travel bubbles’ allowing free movement between countries or cities that are very low-risk, but potentially blocking flights from high-risk markets to safeguard public health,” according to a statement from Heathrow Airport.


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OP: Forbes

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