Fiji’s “Bula Bubble”

Thursday June 25, 2020 Written by Published in Small World
Aerial view of Leleuvia Resort, Fiji Photo: Supplied Aerial view of Leleuvia Resort, Fiji Photo: Supplied

Fijians have been reassured that the government’s plan to open the country’s borders to visitors is safe.

The government wants to create what it calls a “Bula Bubble” with New Zealand and Australia to attract tourists to Fiji.

The Ministry of Health’s Aalisha Sahukhan said a risk assessment was carried out by the ministry before the decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions was made.

Visitors would be “carefully controlled and safely guided away from other travellers and locals”, Dr Sahukhan said.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said any tourist who arrived in Fiji would not be able to move freely throughout the country.

Their movements would be contained within “VIP lanes, starting on the airplane, then from Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel, where they will remain throughout their stay”, Bainimarama said.

The government was identifying geographically-isolated resorts best suited for the “Bula Bubble”, he said.

“Fiji Airways, Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.”

This week, Bainimarama said the Ministry Economy has been working intimately with the ministries of Health and Medical Services, Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, business houses and various organisations to guide this COVID-Safe framework, and will continue to do so in overarching collaboration with our medical experts to ensure health compliance in the days, weeks, and months ahead. 
They launcehd the careFIJI App, a new tool that allows them to notify users if they are exposed to the coronavirus.

Bainimarama said that while Australia and New Zealand work out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal –– or arguably, greater –– success against the virus puts us in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.

He said in working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji, they’ll be welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.

To go to Fiji, Australian and New Zealand tourists can do one of the following:
 
Option One: Intending travellers must present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji, at which point they can immediately start their “Bula Bubble” holiday within confined VIP lanes. 
 
OR
 
Option Two: Upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.  
 
“This Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji, while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public. 
 
"To be clear, any tourist who comes to Fiji on these terms still won’t be able to move freely throughout the country. All of their movement will be contained within the VIP lanes, starting on the airplane, then from the Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel, where they’ll remain throughout their stay.”
 
Fiji is also establishing “Pacific Pathways”, with all travellers from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga.

“As the only sovereign nation with a WHO-certified testing lab and the heart of Pacific aviation, Fiji is poised to become a safely-regulated quarantine hub for Pacific countries.” 
 
The Fijian government is allowing travellers from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga to fly into Fiji and upon arrival, they must spend 14 days in Fijian government quarantine facilities and then pass a Covid-19 test to enter society, both at their own cost or the cost of their respective government.

Bainimarama said they may expand this arrangement to Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

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