Taiwan opens first travel bubble with Palau

Palau, less than four hours by plane from Taiwan, is one of only 15 countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with the Chinese-claimed island, and the closing of its borders last year to keep the virus out has severely hurt its economy.

With Palau recording no cases and the outbreak under control in Taiwan, Taipei agreed to the "sterile corridor" last month, though there are still controls, including tourists having to travel in a group and limited contact with local people.

Some other global travel bubbles have come and gone as the pandemic roared back, or offer quarantine-free travel only in one direction, like from the Cook Islands to New Zealand.