Taiwan shuts down 'small three links' from China

Taiwan’s offshore islands ban all travelers from China regardless of nationality due to epidemic fears

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All travelers from China to be denied entry to Matsu Islands. (Lienchiang County photo)

All travelers from China to be denied entry to Matsu Islands. (Lienchiang County photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Lienchiang County Government said Friday (Feb. 7) it will halt access to the Matsu Islands from China as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The Lienchiang Traffic and Tourism Bureau said individuals traveling from China cannot visit the Matsu Islands, even if they are local residents. The government organization had previously banned all Chinese nationals from entering the county, but has now decided to implement stricter travel policies to stop the spread of the virus, reported New Talk.

The Lienchiang office of the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) added that all ferries to the offshore islands have been suspended. Citizens can still travel to China by plane but will not be able to return until a later date.

Lienchiang County Chief Liu Cheng-ying (劉增應) said few Taiwanese had visited the Matsu Islands since the viral outbreak, so the new policy would not affect many citizens. He said the decision had been made to protect the health of local residents and the county government would make adjustments according to the situation, reported CNA.

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) announced the government would temporarily cease operations of the "small three links," communication routes that provide easier access for travelers between Taiwan's offshore islands and China. MAC said Kinmen County will follow Lienchiang and deny entry to travelers from China starting Monday (Feb. 10), reported Liberty Times.