South Korea is talking with Singapore about opening its first “travel bubble” in July, which would allow vaccinated travelers on direct flights to bypass quarantine.
Health officials said Wednesday the country has also proposed bubbles with Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam and Saipan as they look to ease pandemic-related traveling restrictions to revive ailing tourism and airline industries.
South Korea currently mandates two-week quarantines on most passengers arriving from abroad.
Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho said the country will initially open its travel bubbles only to fully vaccinated travelers arriving on direct flights and group tours who could be monitored by their travel agencies. To bypass quarantine, bubble travelers must have vaccination documents and be cleared by COVID-19 tests upon arrival.
Officials said talks on opening the travel bubbles may not proceed quickly in places where the virus situation is fluctuating. Thailand has experienced its worst outbreak of the pandemic in recent weeks, still regularly exceeding 2,000 new cases daily, and Singapore and Taiwan have been dealing with worrisome new clusters.
As of Wednesday, around 9.2 million South Koreans have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, accounting for about 18 percent of the country’s population.