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Fiji outlines travel bubble push with New Zealand, Australia

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Scott Morriosn attend a traditional welcome ceremony. (AAP). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

WELLINGTON, Nov 8, 2020, RNZ. Fiji is continuing to push for a travel bubble with New Zealand and Australia amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Radio New Zealand reported.

This time, the government wants Australians and New Zealanders not to undergo quarantine when they return home from a holiday in Fiji.

Outlining the Bula Bubble scheme at a seminar in Nadi, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said tourists would undergo Covid-19 tests when they arrived in Fiji and when they left the country.

Sayed-Khaiyum said since Fiji was Covid-contained, the government’s urging New Zealand and Australia that their citizens would not need to quarantine when they arrived back home.

He said this was a challenge for the Bula Bubble scheme.

Sayed-Khaiyum said no Australian or New Zealander would want to visit Fiji for a week’s holiday and then have to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they returned home.

He said visitors would travel from the airport through dedicated transportation in what the government called ‘VIP Lanes’.

He said the tourists would remain at the designated hotels and resorts for 14 days to complete their quarantine.

The Attorney-General said visitors would also use the same ‘lanes’ when they left Fiji.

While Australia and New Zealand have yet to open their borders to Fiji, Sayed-Khaiyum said the government was optimistic its regional partners would come to the table.

“Fiji has taken the first step to creating the Bula Bubble because majority of our tourists come from Australia and New Zealand,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

But he said the Bula Bubble had certain conditions.

“We are opening up a Bula Bubble with them under certain conditions and recognising the fact that they have dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner that is credible to our health authorities.

“Therefore, we are creating a bubble and in the same way we are creating the Pacific pathway with those countries under certain conditions,” he said.

“If we start getting tourists under these conditions, it will mean that those hotels can open up.

“It will mean that those staff that actually work in those hotels can go back to work.

“It means we have the international airport being operational and if Fiji Airways starts providing the services, the flight attendants will need to be rehired and retrained.”

Earlier, the government had recommended to the European Union that its citizens not undergo quarantine when they returned home from a holiday in Fiji.

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