Taiwan experts say no worldwide travel until summer 2021

Former deputy health minister says Taiwan free of coronavirus, recommends domestic travel

Taiwan scholars say international travel may not be safe until summer of 2021. (EVA Air photo)

Taiwan scholars say international travel may not be safe until summer of 2021. (EVA Air photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As countries prepare to open up after coronavirus lockdowns, some Taiwanese scholars said they believe that overseas travel will not be possible until at least the summer of 2021.

After Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced it would shorten the quarantine period for business travelers from countries with a low virus risk, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) revealed it is planning to allow foreign tourists in October. However, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) shot down MOTC's draft plan and said October may be too soon to resume tourism.

During a press conference on Wednesday (May 20), Chen said individuals visiting Taiwan for business and short-term stays will undergo a shortened quarantine of five to 10 days instead of the original 14 days. He stressed the shortened quarantine would only be available to visitors from "extremely low-risk" countries such as New Zealand and Vietnam, while those from high-risk areas will remain banned from entering Taiwan.

Former Deputy Health Minister Chang Hung-jen (張鴻仁) on Friday (May 22) voiced his support for the government's plan to gradually relax border controls, adding that he believes the island nation is free of coronavirus based on scientific evidence. He said Taiwan has not reported a single domestic case of the virus for three 14-day incubation periods, which means there is a very low risk for domestic travel.

Chang pointed out the government would encourage domestic tourism before international travel is possible. He urged Taiwanese to start planning for domestic trips and help revive the nation's economy.

As to a timetable for worldwide travel, some Taiwanese scholars predict that it will take another year for every country to control the virus. They explained that most countries are still reporting high numbers of coronavirus cases per day, and it is difficult to determine if and when the pandemic will end, reported CT Want.