Published on June 1, 2020.
Strict border controls, travel bans, and quarantine measures have impacted the travel industry in unprecedented ways. Never before in our history has an event single-handedly taken down every aspect of travel and hospitality at such a global level. As governments are trying to restart their economies, many have decided to form travel bubbles as a possible solution in order to kickstart tourism in their country.
What is a Travel Bubble?
A. Travel bubbles or travel bridges are groups of countries that have agreed to open their borders to each other. People can move freely within the bubble, while not letting anyone else enter from the outside. Travel Bubbles are an extension of social bubbles where people expand their quarantine zones to include more people they consider safe.
The bubbles are being set up between neighboring countries who have brought their coronavirus outbreaks under control, with a similar number of cases and similar responses to the epidemic thereby creating low-risk travel.
Which countries are creating Travel Bubbles?
The Baltic countries–Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania–were the first to establish travel bubbles. Their citizens and residents are free to move between the three nations. All arrivals from outside the travel bubble will be subject to a mandatory two-week self-quarantine.
On July 1, the European Union opened its borders to 15 countries. Among those on the list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. Brazil, Russia and the United States have been excluded as their numbers continue to rise.
Visitors to France from outside the EU will be subject to a two week quarantine.
Beginning on July 15, travelers from 59 countries will be permitted to enter the United Kingdom without going into quarantine.
Germany is now allowing citizens from 26 EU members states and 5 other locations to enter the country.
With the exception of Serbia, non-EU member state travelers may not visit Hungary.
Italy has been particularly hard-hit by the virus and is not planning to open its borders anytime soon.
Greece began allowing international flights on July 1 and has opened its borders to the approved EU countries. However, travelers will be subject to random tests and must fill out a detailed travel form. Turkey has similar restrictions, including a mandatory medical evaluation upon arrival.
Denmark and Norway have coordinated a travel bubble. Sweden has been left out of the mix because of that country’s persistent virus numbers and limited precautions.
Iceland is open to visitors, but they must provide proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test, submit to one upon arrival or agree to a two week quarantine.
China’s travel bubble has grown to include Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The country continues to keep a close eye on the virus through mandatory swap tests, pre-approved itineraries and a contact tracing app.
Thailand remains wary of foreign travelers and has instead focused on domestic tourism, so their borders will not be open until at least August.
Mexico has also been emphasizing domestic over international travel and plans to open in stages by region in the coming weeks.
Australia and New Zealand are considering a travel bubble, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Many of the Caribbean Islands, including Jamaica and St. Lucia, are open to tourists.
The United Arab Emirates opened to international travelers in early July, but all visitors must fill out a health declaration form and receive a negative virus test within 96 hours of departing from their home country.
Why Travel Bubbles?
These travel bridges are the first step to see if the virus can be contained while relaunching travel and tourism. If the rate of infections remains low or even better at zero, the bubble can be expanded further and include additional countries.
BBV Editorial Note: Please visit government websites for the latest Covid-19-related travel updates.
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