Leaders of the member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have failed in their latest attempt to establish a travel bubble among the grouping.
In a virtual meeting on Thursday during the 4th Special Meeting of the OECS Authority, the leaders were unable to arrive at broad consensus on the details of the travel bubble.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, offered to start the travel bubble with those countries that had initially agreed, with others joining later on.
Unfortunately, his suggestion did not receive the support needed to move forward.
Sources close to the meeting indicate that the leaders could not agree on the minimum standards that must be met to allow entry into their territories.
The OECS member states have had very different experiences in their management of the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda have recorded over one hundred positive cases each. In stark contrast, the British Virgin Islands has recorded no cases.
The meeting centered around a proposal from Ecolog to operate rapid testing in airports in OECS member states for incoming travelers and for outbound travelers in tourism source market countries. This proposal was designed to facilitate an OECS ‘travel bubble’.
Dr. Sean Matthew, who had been appointed by the authority to head up OECS negotiations with Ecolog on an agreement, gave an update to the meeting.
The Caribbean leaders decided, however, that further tweaks to the agreement need to be made prior to signing.
The agenda for the meeting focused largely on COVID-19. It included talks on the way forward with respect to a classification, system, testing solution and the procurement of antigen tests:
- The OECS System
- OECS School Protocol Sequence
As a result of the pandemic and the resulting closure of the borders of OECS countries, intra-OECS travel and trade have been severely affected due to the almost complete halt of the movement of people.