The Vanuatu Government has announced that it has begun implementing the Tamtam Travel Bubble.
The Tamtam Travel Bubble was officially announced on 16 July 2020 and provides a staged pathway for safely re-opening Vanuatu’s borders with neighbouring countries. Delays with establishing the required health and border control protocols have delayed its implementation until now.
Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Bob Weibur Loughman, in a speech on 19 February, specified that the next stage of the Tamtam Travel Bubble will be the opening of Vanuatu’s border with New Caledonia. This is tentatively proposed for April, pending final agreement on arrangements with the government of New Caledonia.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Loughman said that the Vanuatu Government has chosen New Caledonia as the first country to re-open its borders with “because it is a low-risk country that’s had no active community cases for more than 28 days, and their COVID-19 prevention protocols are in line with Vanuatu’s health and security measures”.
The Vanuatu Government is undertaking the Tamtam Travel Bubble with New Caledonia as a trial to be closely and carefully monitored by both governments. Certain groups will be given priority to travel under the Vanuatu-New Caledonia Tamtam Travel Bubble. Initially, it will be limited to people travelling for compassionate reasons, as well as people travelling for health care, education, employment, to provide technical assistance, or visit friends and family.
The National Tamtam Travel Bubble Task Force has been tasked by the Vanuatu Government with setting in motion the policies, procedures and bilateral arrangements necessary for re-opening Vanuatu’s border with New Caledonia. This week, the National Tamtam Travel Bubble Task Force begins a national community-level communication about the Tamtam Travel Bubble, commencing in Port Vila, rural Efate and its offshore islands. The purpose is to inform people about the health and border control protocols that are in place to protect the country from COVID-19. The private sector, civil society, and communities have all been invited to take part.
Under the Tamtam Travel Bubble, all businesses are required to register with the relevant authorities and undergo COVID-19 Safe Business Operations (SBO) training. This training is mandatory for all businesses and their employees.
Vanuatu currently has no COVID-19 cases. Vanuatu’s sea and air borders have been closed since 26 March 2020 to safeguard Vanuatu from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow the Vanuatu Government to put in place health protocols to protect Vanuatu’s citizens and residents.
Since Vanuatu’s borders closed, Vanuatu has successfully repatriated over 5,000 citizens and residents. This is evidence that Vanuatu’s COVID-19 health and border control measures are effective and capable of keeping the country safe.
The Vanuatu Government continues to emphasise the importance of practicing enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures to ensure that Vanuatu remains COVID-19-free.
The official Vanuatu Government source for information on COVID-19 is the Vanuatu Ministry of Health’s website, https://covid19.gov.vu.
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