The program is open to Taiwan’s 14 diplomatic allies, as well as the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, but the ban on group visits remains
By Chiu Chih-jou, Lu Yi-hsuan and Liu Tzu-hsuan / Staff Reporters, with a Staff Writer
Starting Monday next week, Taiwan will resume offering visa-free entry to a number of countries, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced at its press conference yesterday.
Citizens of Taipei’s 14 diplomatic allies, as well as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe, will be able to enter Taiwan without a visa, but the ban on group visits will remain, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang said. (王必勝), who runs the center.
They will be able to enter Taiwan for business or tourism purposes, participate in exhibitions, take part in international exchanges, visit relatives or attend social events, said the Director General of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Phoebe Yeh (葉非比).
Photo courtesy of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
After entering Taiwan, travelers must self-quarantine for three days at a quarantine hotel or private residence, followed by four days of “self-prevention of illnesses”, she added.
Europeans and North Americans have complained about the long wait to apply for visas at Taiwanese embassies and foreign offices, even for Taiwanese with dual nationality, Yeh said.
This prompted the CECC to open the country’s borders to these countries and regions while maintaining the cap on inbound travelers at 50,000 people per week, she said.
Photo courtesy of Central Epidemic Command Center
The openness is reciprocal, as these countries have all opened their borders to Taiwanese nationals, Wang said.
The CECC will deliberate on further border openings and whether to lift the cap on inbound travellers, he added.
Earlier yesterday, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) convened a meeting on disease prevention to discuss the situation of COVID-19 at home and abroad, the opening of borders and administration of vaccines for adults and children.
Su said at the meeting that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last month asked the Cabinet to draft a timetable for opening borders and complementary measures to gradually relax disease prevention regulations, said Yuan executive spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成).
As the global COVID-19 outbreak is gradually brought under control, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 has emerged as the dominant strain, accounting for 78% of all cases, and should be monitored closely, a reported the CECC in the meeting.
While national cases have increased, 99.55% had mild or no symptoms, he added.
Lo quoted Su as asking the CECC to monitor the pandemic and continue to adjust disease prevention measures accordingly.
The positivity rate for inbound travelers from Monday to Saturday last week was 3.58%, the CECC said, adding that after the weekly cap for inbound travelers was raised to 50,000 on August 22, 44,900 people entered Taiwan last week.
During the same period, 72 percent of inbound travelers used disease prevention vehicles, while 71.1 percent used quarantine hotels, it said.
Separately, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) caucus urged the government to announce a timetable for opening borders and request the CECC to purchase new-generation bivalent COVID-19 vaccines effective against the disease as soon as possible. subvariant BA.5.
Japan and South Korea have opened their borders despite the spread of the BA.5 subvariant, TPP lawmaker Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) says, and the government should come up with a clear plan to open borders “so that the public does not feel lost”. .”
Additional reporting by Huang Ching-hsuan
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