Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Revisions to CARICOM Bubble protocols, negative test results required

Travellers within the CARICOM Bubble will soon have to present a negative PCR test result in the countries they are visiting.

This is among the revised recommendations for the bubble from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

The revised recommendations were presented at the Forty-First Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on October 29.

Among other items, the revised recommendations also state that countries that demonstrate no new COVID-19 cases or fewer than 20 cases/100,000 population in the last 14 days are currently eligible for the travel bubble and that all citizens from qualifying CARICOM countries will be allowed to forgo mandatory quarantine.

Initially, the bubble allowed qualifying CARICOM countries to forgo COVID-19 testing and mandatory quarantine.

The recommendations come as two countries, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines pulled out of the bubble to implement their own protocols for CARICOM travellers.

Grenada is now mandating negative test results from all travellers, including those from CARICOM countries. A review of the period for quarantine and tests for CARICOM nationals will be done soon.

Grenada’s Health Minister Nickolas Steele told members of the House of Representatives last Friday that members of the bubble could not agree to common protocols.  

St Vincent and the Grenadines recently updated its protocols that state that from October 25 until November 10 all travellers, except those from Barbados, must arrive with a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. All travellers must also do a mandatory five day-day quarantine in an approved quarantine hotel at their cost.

Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda told Loop News that a bubble which requires no quarantine, but pre-arrival testing within 72 hours is workable. 

“However, passengers should be subjected to the health protocols of the receiving state, including the wearing of masks, social distancing and good hygiene etiquette,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda is still operating with the CARICOM bubble.

“The Caribbean is still one of the safest regions in the world, with one of the lowest prevalence of COVID 19. The formal movement of people within the region especially, among those countries without community spread will not present any increased risk. And those passengers who stay at bio-secured hotels and other approved accommodation properties are unlikely to be a significant source of COVID transmission,” said Browne.

He added: “Intraregional trade and connectivity of our people are still very important therefore, we cannot be held enslaved by COVID despite its menacing effects; we must find creative ways for our people to move and manage the associated risks.”

The CARICOM countries that were eligible to participate in the bubble were: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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