As researchers all around the world scramble to find a vaccine for the ongoing pandemic, multiple measures have been implemented to counteract the more adverse effects of the situation. Face masks are one…
And a ‘travel bubble’ is another.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. What on earth is this so-called ‘travel bubble’, a notion which sounds curiously like this…
Well, in answer…
We can only say that in this particular case, it’s self-explanatory in a literal sense.
What Exactly Is A ‘Travel Bubble’?
According to TODAYonline, “travel bubbles” are essentially travel-centric alliances between neighbouring nations with low infection rates.
Apparently, these bubbles would allow travellers to freely visit other countries in the same spectrum.
They would also, more often than not, involve restriction-free travel: travellers would not have to self-quarantine for 14 days, a notion that would be unthinkable in certain countries.
To date, ‘travel’ bubbles have been adopted by the likes of New Zealand, Australia and just about the entirety of Europe.
Little wonder why too, considering how the pause on international tourism not only ruins family vacations but affects the global economy in complicated ways as well.
So, in a sense, ‘travel bubbles’ don’t just serve to relieve one’s travel addictions, but also constitute a global economy factor. And that begets the question;
In that case, surely every country would’ve incorporated them, right?
Well, as it turns out…
The answer’s not quite, and I shall elucidate why.
Why Many Countries, Including S’pore, Have Difficulties Creating Them?
As it turns out, ‘travel bubbles’ may not be as tourism-ideal as they’re touted to be, simply because the ‘bubble’ bursts too easily.
In May, New Zealand and Australia announced a plan to form one of the first travel partnerships during the pandemic. Called the ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’, it was supposed to be enacted by early September…
Only to get put on hold when the Australian state of Victoria experienced a coronavirus outbreak.
Europe, too, seemed poised to adopt the pretty-sounding idea. The Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania got the ball rolling with the first travel bubble of Europe, and Hungary and Slovenia soon followed suit.
Before long, much of Europe has become a giant bubble, with the European Commission creating “Reopen EU”, a site that lists travel rules within European countries.
Italy, Germany and Britain also began opening up.
However, it did not last long as well. When flare-ups of the virus occurred, the borders were tasked to shut on short notice, disrupting travellers’ plans.
Meanwhile, Asia, too, has had its fair share of burst travel bubbles.
According to reports, Thailand had hoped to invite travellers from nearby countries with low virus rates, such as South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, to visit without the need for self-quarantine on arrival.
New waves of the virus, however, scrapped those plans.
Covid-19 & Travel Bubbles
‘Travel bubbles’ represent a high risk to both travellers and the countries they’re visiting.
According to Dr Brad Connor, longtime travel medicine and infectious disease specialist, asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic travellers harbouring the virus can unintentionally bring it into an area undetected and cause an outbreak.
“We all want to travel again in a safe way,” he said. “Unfortunately, the approaches so far have not worked.”
It should be noted that apart from travel bubbles, there are also defacto ones, which publish lists of the necessary requirements to enter, as well as “travel corridors” and safelists.
Various regions have also attempted to improvise the situation in a bid to curb risks.
Thailand, for instance, is contemplating a new program where international travellers (who are willing to stay for 30 days) are allowed into Phuket, where they will quarantine in designated resorts and go through two Covid-19 tests.
Whether it works, however, is really up to time itself.
In the end, travel bubbles are an undeniably inventive way to permit freedom and curb risks at the same time. However, it’s inevitable that accidents happen…
Due in part to non-mitigated risk.
As such, travellers should make sure to practice the necessary safety protocols, such as masks, frequent hand-washing and social-distancing, to minimise risks to themselves and others. But even so, the risk will always be there. As Dr Connor puts it:
“But at this point, we can’t completely eliminate the risk.
“And therein lies the problem.”
And until a vaccine can be found…
I guess we’ll just have to either risk it or go down the safe route.