Vanuatu-New Caledonia travel bubble open by April

The government could not keep the border close forever-we need to find a way to move forward and proper at the same time minimize risks, says the PM. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

Vanuatu will open a travel bubble with New Caledonia in April as the first stage of the Tamtam Travel Bubble for the country’s socio-economic recovery.

Prime Minister (PM) Bob Loughman officially announced this yesterday afternoon.

A plan has been developed by the National Tamtam Travel Bubble Taskforce to prepare for the implementation of the bubble, said the PM.

New Caledonia has been chosen because it is low-risk of coronavirus with no community transmissions and was able to control cases in quarantine, the PM said.

“New Caledonia has shown that it could manage its COVID-19 risk properly and has followed health and security rules set by the government of Vanuatu,” he said.

“Also, Vanuatu and New Caledonia share a history and connections.

“This makes it safe and secure to pilot the travel bubble with New Caledonia. The bubble will be implemented initially with Port Vila before other islands.

“The extended focus of the bubble includes people seeking medical assistance, students traveling for education, technical experts and visitors.”

Loughman said the government, through the National Tamtam Travel Bubble will carry out community consultation and awareness throughout the provinces and to stakeholders about the importance of having a Tamtam Travel Bubble.

“The government wants to ensure everyone knows and understand protocols put in place for protection and how it will keep everyone safe at all times.

“The government is requesting all businesses wanting to be part of the Tamtam Travel Bubble to register for the Safe Business Operations Training, including their employees.

“This training will make them COVID ready before joining the bubble.

“I am appealing to chiefs, churches, government agencies, statutory bodies, stated-owned enterprise, business, private sector, development partners, communities and the general public to cooperate and work together in the preparation towards the bubble extension.”

In July last year, the Council of Ministers (COM) approved the establishment of the Tamtam Travel Bubble to facilitate trading and economic activities between Vanuatu and other low-risk countries.

A National Tamtam Travel Taskforce was set up to take lead in the preparation works.

The Tamtam Travel Bubble with low-risk countries was supposed to happen last September as announced by the government.

According to the PM, it was not realized at that time because the country was not ready in terms of its health and security works.

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