CORONAVIRUS/Visitors to Taiwan increase as doors open to business travelers

06/22/2020 04:50 PM
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CNA photo June 22, 2020
CNA photo June 22, 2020

Taoyuan, June 22 (CNA) The number of arrivals at Taiwan's largest airport increased sharply Monday -- the first day that Taiwan opened its doors to foreign business travelers from certain countries and areas since mid-March, when border controls due to COVID-19 were imposed.

According to Taoyuan International Airport, 1,475 passengers were expected to arrive at the airport Monday, while 643 were expected to leave. That would be 607 more than arrived Sunday and 43 more than departed Sunday.

Airport authorities were not sure, however, whether the increase was a one-day blip on the first day foreign business travelers from 11 low-risk and four low-to-moderate risk countries and areas were allowed in for short-term stays, or whether the numbers would continue to rise.

The 11 countries and areas deemed by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) as low-risk for COVID-19 are New Zealand, Australia, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia and Bhutan.

The low-to-moderate risk countries are South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore.

To be eligible for the program that started Monday, business travelers from the 15 territories must receive prior approval from the CECC and present on arrival a negative test for COVID-19 done within three days before their departure.

They also cannot have traveled to another country within 14 days of their arrival.

Once in Taiwan, they will only be quarantined for five to seven days rather than the standard 14, and can stay in the country for up to three months to engage in business activities compatible with their visa status.

The CECC announced on June 17 that the measure would take effect on June 22.

Prior to the new opening, foreign nationals had been banned from entering Taiwan since March 19 except for those holding Alien Resident Certificates or documents proving they are in Taiwan for diplomatic or business purposes.

The CECC eased Taiwan's border controls at a time when there have been no domestically transmitted cases since April 12 and the outbreak has shown signs of abating in other countries and territories.

(By Flor Wang and Wu Jui-chih)

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