Leaders of the Micronesian nation of Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Marshall Islands agreed to work on a travel bubble proposal, allowing COVID-safe travels among the five nations.
The commitment was in the signed communique at the conclusion of the Micronesia Presidents’ Summit(MPS) Special Leaders’ Meeting concluded on October 2 here in Koror by Palau President Tommy. Remengesau Jr., Marshall Islands President David Kabua, Nauru President Lionel Aingimea.
FSM President David W. Panuelo and Kiribati Taneti Maamau participated virtually at the Leaders Retreat.
“Presidents further discussed a quarantine-free “travel bubble” between the 5 Member States, which remain COVID-free. Connections could be potentially established to low-risk jurisdictions outside, with passengers subject to quarantine upon entrance to the bubble,” the communique stated.
Nauru Airlines has offered their services to facilitate the bubble.
Nauru President Aingimea lauded President Remengesau for his determination to bring the leaders together amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this pandemic when no one dare to cross borders and maximize the opportunities of a COVID-free Micronesia, we have made the reality of the first ever Micronesia safe zone travel bubble,” Mr. Aingimea said.
“To the world we have demonstrated the trust on each other’s healthcare system and the trust we have on each other.”
The five leaders agreed to work on safe air travel in their respective countries and in the sub-region which will still be subjected to stringent testing and quarantine requirements to ensure safety of citizens.
He said when they return from Palau to Nauru, they will be following quarantine procedures and will undergo COVID-19 testing.
He said the travel bubble is a step to the right direction and will be further discussed to fine-tune the plan.
Kiribati President Maamau said the special in-person meeting in Palau is a test that the Micronesian travel bubble could work
He said the COVID-free Micronesia is a reflection of the nations’ “hard work.”
President Remengesau said during the conclusion of the meeting Friday that solidarity of the five nations is stronger than ever and he believes that strength will help them ride out the COVId-19 pandemic.
“One thing , our culture and our way of ;life should never be taken for granted. Covid 19 is happening around the world, and yet by coming together we have shown that we value life and that’s why our area is COVID-free. By coming together we have proven that yes, we can do reasonable, realistic ways to get our economy going through some bubble arrangement,” Remengesau said.