What is a ‘travel bubble,’ and which countries are considering them?

Nearly six months after COVID-19 became an international threat, some countries are considering forming “travel bubbles” to open their economies further in time for tourist season. 

Also called a travel corridor, a travel bubble is when two or more countries that successfully have slowed down the coronavirus allow citizens to travel between the countries in the “bubble” freely. Citizens would not need to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days upon entering the other country in the bubble. 

Generally, neighboring nations that experienced lower COVID-19 infections are considering these bubbles. 

For example, Forbes reported that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania opened their borders to each other to create a Baltic bubble. The World Health Organization says that, as of May 27, Estonia had 1,823 infections, Latvia had 1,047 infections, and Lithuania had 1,623 infections. 

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said in a tweet that the bubble would help each country overcome the challenge of COVID-19. 

“Throughout history, Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been exposed to a variety of challenges,” he said. “We will overcome this one as well, thanks to excellent understanding and coordination.”

Finland and Poland may join the Baltic Bubble soon, the BBC reported in mid-May

Croatia and Slovenia formed a bubble on May 26, according to NBC News. Croatia had 2,244 confirmed cases, and Slovenia had 1,509 cases, according to WHO. 

According to Forbes, other countries considering a travel bubble include: 

  • Australia and New Zealand
  • China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea
  • Israel, Greece, and Cyprus

Countries that experienced higher outbreaks are unlikely to form travel corridors anytime soon. NBC News said France, which has seen more than 140,000 confirmed cases and more than 28,000 deaths by the end of May, is focused on promoting travel within the country with its #ThisSummerIAmVisitingFrance hashtag. 

Italy is also focused on domestic travel. The Italian government announced a €500 ($540) holiday subsidy to be spent on summer holidays, according to NBC News. 

Sources: Forbes, NBC News, WHO, BBC

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