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Taiwan-Palau travel bubble opens with 5 principles of epidemic prevention

Travelers returning to Taiwan must undergo 5 days of 'strengthened' self-health monitoring

(Facebook, Palau Visitors Authority photo)

(Facebook, Palau Visitors Authority photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday (March 17) that the country's travel bubble with Palau has officially been formed, with five principles of epidemic prevention, three conditions, and "strengthened" self-health monitoring.

On Wednesday, the CECC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Transportation and Communications held a joint press conference to announce the official opening of the new travel bubble between Taiwan and Palau. At the same time, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr.and Taiwan Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow (周民淦) held a simultaneous press conference in Palau announcing the tourism bubble, which is set to start in April.

During the press briefing, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said he hopes the new bubble will revitalize tourism and economic activities in the two countries while taking into account safety measures to minimize the risk of infection and transmission. To ensure safety and the smooth execution of the bubble, Chen said that travelers must comply with five major epidemic prevention principles.

5 principles of epidemic prevention:

  1. Travelers must stay with their tour groups at all times. Personal excursions are not allowed.
  2. The itinerary is based on the principle of avoiding crowds and demarking areas that are separate from local residents, and appropriate lodging and travel routes must be selected in advance.
  3. Fixed transportation hubs will be adopted throughout the whole process, and vehicles transporting tourists should be cleaned and disinfected daily.
  4. Travelers can only stay in hotels that have obtained the "safety and epidemic prevention certificate" approved by the local health department in Palau.
  5. Restaurants must have designated dining areas and appropriate distribution of customers, with properly planned entry and exit paths and seating arrangements to maintain appropriate social distancing.

3 conditions to qualify for the travel bubble:

  1. No history of international travel within the past 6 months.
  2. No quarantine or home isolation within the past 2 months.
  3. No record of coronavirus infection within the past 3 months.

Prior to departure, travelers must also cooperate with airport staff in taking a polymerase chain reaction (PRC) test and generating a report verifying that the test results are negative.

"Strengthened" self-health monitoring

After completing the trip, tourists do not need to take a PCR test prior to returning to Taiwan from Palau. After returning to Taiwan, they are exempt from undergoing the standard 14-day quarantine.

Instead, they must implement "strengthened" self-health monitoring for five days. If a self-financed coronavirus test is negative on the fifth day, people can switch to standard self-health monitoring until the 14th day after entry.

The CECC pointed out that during the period of "strengthened" self-health monitoring, returnees should conform to the principle of one person per room, including living spaces and bathrooms, with the exception of those who traveled together. Those living together should take appropriate protective measures, including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and not eating together.

If a returning traveler does not show any symptoms, they can venture out, but they can only engage in fixed and limited activities and cannot take public transportation. They are forbidden from going to crowded places.

A real-name identification system will be used, and daily activities and contacts must be recorded. No contact with unfamiliar persons is allowed.

In addition, returning travelers should wear masks and maintain social distancing whenever stepping out and observe the general self-health monitoring guidelines for 14 days after entry.