By Carlena Knight
The Caricom travel bubble which was agreed upon last Friday will come into effect from today.
This means that travellers from participating countries within the region will be allowed entry without being subjected to PCR testing prior to arrival.
Neither will they have to undergo quarantine. However, they may be subjected to screening on arrival at the ports of entry.
Caricom’s heads of government agreed to the move to help resuscitate the region’s “Covid-19 challenged travel and tourism sectors”.
The decision was taken last Friday during a special emergency session, at which they acknowledged that the past six months have been very challenging globally and regionally, as countries have struggled to cope with the effects of the 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, leaders were guided by a comprehensive report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which provided recommendations on how it would operate, and laid out the eligibility criteria for countries to participate.
Only those member states and associate members with no cases or in the low risk category would be allowed to participate. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be a part of the bubble thus far.
The member states which did not meet the criteria because they have been greatly impacted by Covid-19 cases are the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
None of the associate members, namely Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos, have been listed, however, the other member states will be able to join the bubble once they have passed the criteria.
The criteria stipulate that countries will be categorised ranging from those with no cases to those which are low, medium, high and very high risk with respect to the rate of positive Covid-19 cases over a 14-day period. The level of risk would be determined by the number of positive cases per 100,000 of the population within a 14-day period.
CARPHA will assess relevant data to advise on participation in the travel bubble.