Feb. 5 is new travel bubble launch date

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The Marianas Visitors Authority’s Travel Bubble Committee announced that they have a new date to launch the “travel bubble” in the CNMI.

During a monthly MVA meeting yesterday, Travel Bubble Committee member Priscilla Iakopo said the new target date to launch the travel bubble is Feb. 5.

“Initially we were supposed to initiate the travel bubble on Jan. 13. However, we did not get the approval from [the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency]. And so…an application…was resubmitted again and our new tentative date is Feb. 5, and we hope to hear back as soon as possible,” she said.

Iakopo said aside from the launch date, all approved protocols and procedures for the travel bubble remain the same.

A travel bubble is an exclusive arrangement between two jurisdictions that will allow a relatively easier exchange of travelers between the two.

The travel bubble, which is a collaborative effort between E-Land Group of Companies, MVA, and the CNMI administration, is supposed to be a bridge between Saipan and South Korea and is being touted as a tentative reopening of tourism in the CNMI, allowing Korean tourists to visit the CNMI under an exclusive arrangement.

The travel bubble program has yet to be advertised in South Korea, which means no participants have been confirmed for the program yet.

Back in December, the MVA board unanimously approved E-Land’s proposed plan to carry out the travel bubble in the CNMI.

The health protocols for travel bubble passengers were revised to add another layer, so all arrivals would be subjected to three layers of screening: As soon as they arrive, passengers with the travel bubble must show proof of a negative PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test 72 hours prior to arriving on Saipan. The passengers will then take another test upon arrival and one more test five days after.

Once they arrive, the passengers will be immediately brought to Pacific Islands Club Saipan where they will be quarantined for five days. There, they will be able to use the facilities. They will then be transported to Kensington Hotel after the fifth day testing comes out negative for everyone aboard the flight.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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