With the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdowns upending the tourism and hospitality industries, governments have started establishing travel bubbles (air bubbles or corona corridors) between countries, allowing citizens to travel freely between specified nations without having the need to undergo on-arrival quarantine.
Such an initiative was first established by three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They formed a trilateral partnership, granting citizens of member countries entry into their territories. Besides, the travel bubble also allowed the three countries to resume trade relations and revive other sectors as well.
Over time, a plethora of smaller bubbles have emerged and is likely to be the preferred way by governments towards a gradual resumption of international air travel, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projecting that global passenger traffic would not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024.
These are the existing travel bubble arrangements:
India has such an arrangement with the US, the UK, Germany, France and Kuwait and is in talks with Canada. The government has also allowed all Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and certain categories of foreigners to fly in from countries with which India has air bubble arrangement. However, there are no commercial flights on these routes.
Austria – Germany
Austria has reopened its borders with Germany and Liechtenstein since mid-June. The travel bubble allows business and leisure trips to be made between said countries.
Croatia – Slovenia
Croatia, whose tourism sector accounts for roughly 20 per cent of the country’s total GDP, and Slovenia had formed an agreement to set up a travel bubble way back in May.
Denmark – Norway
Denmark and Norway have established a travel bubble and reopened tourism between them. However, restrictions for Sweden remain as the country has the highest Covid-19 deaths in the region.
European Union – Third Countries
As of July 16, the EU Council has included 13 countries in its list. They are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, China (on the basis of reciprocity).
The UK has published a list of 70 countries for which the government has lifted self-quarantine requirements and may travel without restrictions. Recently, Spain and Belgium were removed from the list.
Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Barbados, BES Islands, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Réunion, San Marino, Seychelles, South Korea, St Barthélemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Slovakia, Slovenia, St Vincent and the Grenadine, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City, Vietnam
Australia – New Zealand
Way back in May, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had agreed to develop a trans-Tasman travel bubble. However, following the surge in cases in Melbourne and imposition of a state of disaster in Victoria, Ardern has stated that the proposed corridor would be on the back burner for several months.
China – South Korea
China and South Korea have implemented their own corona bridge since May. However, people are allowed to visit only select cities in both countries, which includes Seoul to Shanghai. China also plans to include Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Macau into the safe zone.
Singapore – China
Singapore has started to allow some business travel from six Chinese provinces — Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang — since July.
Indonesia – China, South Korea, Japan, Australia
Indonesia’s government has begun internal discussions on setting up travel bubbles with China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia in a bid to jump start its business and tourism sector. Indonesia is likely to prioritise business people and students.
Japan is planning to reach an agreement with China, South Korea, Taiwan, as well as Pacific partners Australia and New Zealand for quarantine-free travel.
Malaysia – Singapore, Brunei
Discussions on forming “green lanes” are being held between Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
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