Taiwan is lifting some restrictions this week, but the ending of quarantine is still a few weeks away, providing there are no new COVID setbacks.
In the flurry of Asia's activity to reopen tourism, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has seen the light and hopped onboard the global aviation train. Late this week, it joined in similar announcements from Japan and Hong Kong, leaving just two Asian markets clinging to their closed border COVID policies, China and North Korea.
Reopening the borders and putting out the welcome mat for tourists will be a tonic for the country's two leading airlines, China Airlines and EVA Air. The two have 184 aircraft, of which 36, or 20%, are listed as inactive on the ch-aviation.com database, although most of their widebodies are operating. China Airlines has 18 Airbus A330-300s and 13 A350-900s plus 10 Boeing B777-300ERs flying, with just five widebodies inactive. EVA Air has 11 A330s, 34 B777s and 10 B787s operating, with just one A330-200 inactive.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that visa-exempt travel to Taiwan will be fully reinstated from September 29 for nationals of eligible countries to engage in activities that do not require a permit. These activities include visiting relatives, tourism, business, social events, exhibition visits and international exchanges. The ministry said the changes were made following an announcement from the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), the cabinet-level government body in charge of these measures.
Beginning at midnight on September 29, the weekly arrivals cap will be lifted from 50,000 to 60,000, with plans to expand it further to 150,000. Also, the on-arrival saliva PCR test for inbound travelers will be scrapped and replaced by rapid-antigen tests. Visitors will still have to undergo three days of hotel quarantine, followed by four days of self-monitoring when they are expected to avoid crowded places. According to Nikkei Asia, Taiwan expects to end mandatory quarantine next month and reconnect its economy with the world after more than two and a half years of restrictions.
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The report quotes Taiwan's premier Su Tseng-chang saying that the government aims to end the measures around October 13. Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng told a briefing on Thursday that the government will monitor the situation for another week and plans to announce the easing two weeks before the scheduled implementation. This means the new rules, including removing quarantine for tourists and lifting a ban on tour groups, would be effective around October 13, assuming infections remain at acceptable levels this week. Lo added that the new measures will,
"allow the public to fully return to normal life [and] Taiwan to open its door to welcome back tourists and all industries to be more active and prosperous. This is the last mile in our fight against the pandemic."
Apart from wanting to get tourism restarted, there is some logic behind Taiwan's move to ditch pandemic-era restrictions. On September 21, 46,902 people tested positive for COVID with 39 deaths, a sharp drop from May when daily infections exceeded 94,000 due to the Omicron variant.
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Source: Nikkei Asia
Journalist – A professional aviation journalist writing across the industry spectrum. Michael uses his MBA and corporate business experience to go behind the obvious in search of the real story. A strong network of senior aviation contacts mixed with a boyhood passion for airplanes helps him share engaging content with fellow devotees. Based in Melbourne, Australia.
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