Coronavirus: Taiwan to allow transit passengers, some visitors as it starts to ease restrictions
- From Thursday, travellers will be able to stay in designated area at Taoyuan airport in Taipei for up to eight hours before they catch connecting flights
- Visits for non-tourism purposes will also be permitted from Monday and some students will be able to return to the island
Taiwan will allow international travellers – including from Hong Kong and Macau – to transit through the island as it starts to ease coronavirus restrictions, while entry bans on some students and non-tourism visitors will also be lifted.
From Thursday, travellers will be allowed to transit through the Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, as long as they do not enter the self-ruled island, according to its Central Epidemic Command Centre.
“These travellers will be allowed to stay at the airport for no more than eight hours and must take connecting flights from the same airlines to their destinations,” Chen Tsung-yen, deputy head of the centre, said on Wednesday.
Transit passengers would be required to stay within a designated part of the airport and avoid contact with other travellers, Chen said, adding that they would still be able to access duty-free shopping and food in the waiting area.
He said all travellers would undergo temperature checks before and after they arrived, and anyone found to be over 37.5 degrees Celsius would not be allowed to board another flight. Anyone with a fever would be seen by a doctor at the airport to assess whether they needed to go into quarantine in Taiwan.
But travellers from mainland China were still barred from transiting through Taiwan, Chen said.
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Taiwan has been praised for its early response to the pandemic – authorities in the island of 23 million took preventive measures when the outbreak first emerged in mainland China in late December, and it has recorded just 446 cases and seven deaths so far.
Given its relatively successful containment of the outbreak, Chen said foreign travellers would also be allowed to visit Taiwan for non-tourism purposes starting from Monday.
They would be required to spend 14 days in quarantine on arrival, but business travellers from 15 countries and cities could apply for a shorter quarantine.
Taiwan has listed 11 places as low-risk: Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Palau, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Fiji, Mongolia and Bhutan. It has also classified South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore as low-to-moderate risk countries.
“People from Hong Kong and Macau can also apply to visit for humanitarian assistance, fulfilment of business contracts, personnel transfer for transnational corporations, investments, business start-ups and for work residence from Monday,” Chen said.
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Meanwhile, Taiwan will also allow 2,238 students from the 11 low-risk countries and cities – including 834 from Hong Kong and 617 from Macau – to return to the island to study.
Education Minister Pan Wen-chung on Monday said the students were those due to graduate this summer who had been barred from entry because of the pandemic.
They would be required to spend 14 days in quarantine at a government-approved facility before they could return to class, Pan said, adding that arrangements for other foreign students to return would be made in a step-by-step process.