Taiwan's new entry ban on Hong Kong, Macau affects thousands of students

Taiwan's entry ban expanded to include Hong Kong and Macau residents, students

Chen Shih-chung (left) and Pan Wen-Chung.

Chen Shih-chung (left) and Pan Wen-Chung. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has bolted the door for Hong Kong and Macau residents as the risk of community spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has increased in the two Chinese special administrative regions.

Hong Kong residents and students will no longer be allowed to enter Taiwan, including those who have already acquired a visa, said Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺), deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, on Monday (Feb. 10). Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center has decided to expand restrictions on entry by Hong Kong and Macau residents effective Tuesday (Feb. 11) in view of the frequent circulation of people between China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The new measure, however, does not apply to people who need to visit Taiwan for business or employment purposes, said the deputy minister. Hong Kong and Macau spouses with valid Taiwanese residence permits and their minors will also be permitted into the country, he said, adding that those who are allowed to enter are required to undergo a 14-day home quarantine.

The risk of community infection by the coronavirus in Hong Kong and Macau has increased because of the cities’ frequent contact with China, said Chen. Even though some measures have been taken by the Hong Kong authorities, it remains a question of whether the city’s medical services are able to tackle the further spread of the virus from China, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who is in charge of the command center.

The new measure will affect an estimated 7,972 Hong Kong students who have not arrived in Taiwan for the new semester, which was postponed to March, according to Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠). Students with questions pertaining to their studies are encouraged to get in touch with their schools or the ministry, he said.

He added that the ministry has been in negotiations with universities to provide flexible and diverse options regarding enrollment, courses, and the evaluation of students' performance, Pan emphasized. “The ministry will strive to help students complete their studies,” he said.