‘TRAVEL BUBBLE’:
Taiwan and Palau are deliberating details related to quarantines and flights, and while no date is set, Surangel Whipps Jr might arrive this month

  • By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter

Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr has expressed the hope to be on the first flight to Taiwan after the two countries establish a “travel bubble,” although details about the potential visit have not been confirmed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The planned travel bubble has been discussed since former Palauan president Tommy Remengesau spoke about the idea at the UN General Assembly in September last year, although it was put on hold, reportedly due to Palau’s concern about reopening its borders, as it has insufficient medical capacity.

During a visit to the Pacific Ocean nation in January, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) met with Whipps and Remengesau to discuss the issue.

Screen grab from Facebook page of Surangel Whipps Jr.

With the possibility of a travel bubble increasing, the ministry yesterday also confirmed media reports that Whipps has expressed hope to visit Taiwan on the first flight within a bubble, or what he called a “sterile corridor.”

The ministry would make arrangement if Whipps is to travel, but the plans would depends on related factors, Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Larry Tseng (曾瑞利) told a news briefing in Taipei.

While Whipps expects to visit Taiwan in the middle of this month, the exact date is still being ironed out, Tseng said.

The two countries are still deliberating over details related to quarantine procedure and flights, with the results expected to be finalized this month, he said, adding that the ministry would explain the situation to the public at the proper time.

Palau is one of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies and has reported no COVID-19 cases.

Asked if Taiwan might form a travel bubble with Vietnam, Tseng said that Vietnam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has also been successful, but it still bans all commercial flights, except special charter flights, so there is no plan for such a thing at this time.

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