Update: Taiwan bans all foreign visitors

Taiwan bans entry for foreign travelers, mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning foreign residents goes into effect March 19

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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (March 18) announced that as confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to stream in, all foreign visitors will be barred from entering the country effective Thursday (March 19).

During a press conference held on Wednesday morning, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that starting Thursday, all passengers arriving in Taiwan must undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) then announced that all foreign nationals will be barred from entering Taiwan, with the exception of persons holding an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC, 居留證), diplomatic officials, and businesspeople with special entry permits, also effective on Thursday.

Due to the sudden increase in cases coming from Europe, Egypt, and Turkey, people who returned from trips to these areas between March 5 and March 14 must immediately begin home quarantine. They are not allowed to leave their stated quarantine location for a two-week period.

The government is also offering a stipend of NT$1,000 (US$33) per day to those who must undergo quarantine. Chen exhorted individuals who have recently traveled to Europe to contact their local government officials and to be completely truthful about their travel history and those they came into contact with.

Chen warned that he has the full list of passengers who have traveled to these areas and that if anyone fails to report for quarantine, they will be punished. He added that those who fail to report for quarantine will also forfeit their daily stipend.

Update: 03/20 7:00 p.m.

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) announced on Friday (March 20) an extended program to encourage foreign nationals who overstay their visas to turn themselves in and help curb the spread of the coronavirus. According to the amnesty program, individuals residing in Taiwan on an expired visa who self-report between March 20 and June 6 will be eligible for reduced penalties.

The reduced penalties would entail no detention, no entry ban, and a minimum fine of NT$2,000 (US$66), said the NIA. After the program expires, visa overstayers will be subject to heavier punishment.

The policy applies to visa-exempt visitors, too. For information about the program, call the NIA hotline at 0800-024-881 or the Ministry of Labor hotline at 1955.