CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan proposes plan to loosen travel, transportation restrictions

05/15/2020 10:09 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on Friday detailed a plan to loosen travel and transportation restrictions as Taiwan appears to have controlled the spread of COVID-19.

The three-stage plan is aimed at addressing different goals to achieve in order for the public to resume normal lives, and at reviving the economy, said Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) in a statement.

According to the MOTC, in the first phase between May 27 and July 31, the priority will be to form new standards for travel, with a group consisting of local tourism operators traveling along the West Coast Expressway on May 27 to demonstrate safe methods of travel.

The ministry will provide guidelines to the public on how to travel safely under the threat of COVID-19, it said.

Starting on June 1, passengers on the country's regular trains and high speed rail will be able to eat onboard as long as social distancing is maintained, but they will still have to wear masks during other times, it added.

In addition, starting from the June 25-28 Dragon Boat Festival weekend, standing tickets will be available again for regular trains and non-reserved seats will be available for the high speed rail, the MOTC said.

Both are currently canceled during holiday periods to avoid crowds.

The second stage will last between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, during which subsidies will be given to certain group and individual travel packages, the MOTC said, adding that it will promote domestic travel with local governments.

By this stage, there will no longer be restrictions on eating and seating arrangements on regular trains and high speed rail, and it is likely that people will no longer have to wear masks, have their temperature taken, and keep social distancing when they use public transportation, depending on how the pandemic unfolds, according to the ministry.

In the third stage, which takes place between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, the country will start to open up to overseas travel and will first encourage travel to countries where COVID-19 is under control.

Border control measures could continue to be relaxed during that period, including restrictions on certain flights and bans against arriving passengers using mass transportation.

International cruise tourism, cross Taiwan-Strait air and marine travel will likely resume during this time, according to the MOTC.

The ministry said the plan will be submitted to the Central Epidemic Command Center next week for final approval.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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