CECC mulling easing quarantine & border controls
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is outlining a plan to shortenquarantine for people arriving in Taiwan but health officials haven't said when these new plans will be implemented.
Under the new rules, the current 14-day quarantine will be shortened to 10 days, and people will be allowed to quarantine at home as long as they are not sharing that residence with other persons.
Travellers can also choose to stay in designated hotels for the 10-day quarantine period.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung says travellers will receive a PCR test on arriving in Taiwan and before the end of their quarantine period.
They will also be given three rapid tests on their third, fifth, and seventh days of quarantine.
Travellers will also have to take a fourth rapid test near the end of the seven-day self-health management period.
The health minister says the vaccination status of travellers will not have an effect on their quarantine requirements.
Furthermore, the CECC says it's considering easing coronavirus related border restrictions, starting with the entry of foreign tourists and then lifting the ban on overseas travel by tour groups.
According to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, the decision to give priority to foreign tourists is because they will help increase Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves.
Chen says if that policy proves successful, then regulations could be eased on group tours to other countries, with the establishment of "travel bubbles."
The health minister is not giving a time frame for revising travel rules.
However, the Tourism Bureau has been expressing its hope that the CECC will relax its international travel restrictions by the third quarter.
Strict border entry and travel restrictions have been in place since 21 March 2020.
In related news, the Ministry of Economic Affairs says it's currently drawing up new guidelines for business travellers as part of government efforts to relax border restrictions and shorten quarantine for arrivals.
This, after public health officials unveiled plans to shorten the quarantine requirements for all arrivals from 14 days to 10.
The economics ministry says it has been studying the itineraries of business travellers who apply to come to Taiwan to better understand how best to serve them once border restrictions are relaxed.
The ministry says it is currently studying two options.
One idea is an "economic travel bubble" that targets business people who apply to stay in Taiwan for one to three days in order to sign contracts or attend meetings.
They may be exempted from quarantine if they show proof of being negative for the coronavirus.
The other idea currently being studied is aimed at business travellers who apply to stay in Taiwan for longer, to attend trade expos - and officials say they may be allowed to quarantine for 10-days.
The shortened quarantine measure for business travellers could take effect in mid-March at the earliest.
In other pandemic news, the government will begin allowing international language students who do not hold Ministry of Education Huayu Enrichment Scholarships to enter Taiwan on 1 March.
Education Minister Pan Wen-chung says his office expects around 5,000 such students to arrive by 30 June.
Schools in Taiwan that accept international students for Chinese language courses of six months and above can now submit applications for them to enter the country.
According to the education minister, the 1 March date was chosen in order to avoid the Lunar New Year holiday and to ensure that there will be enough capacity at quarantine facilities or hotels to accommodate the students.
All incoming international language students will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine and then practice seven days of self-health management, while taking several coronavirus tests during the 21-day period after they enter Taiwan.