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Taiwan considers loosening entry ban on migrant workers

Taiwan mulls 'moderately loosening' entry ban of migrant workers imposed on May 19

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Indonesians being screened at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Nov. 30, 2019.

Indonesians being screened at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Nov. 30, 2019. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is considering relaxing a ban on the entry of migrant workers, which it imposed in May when a major domestic outbreak of COVID-19 began.

Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, Taiwan imposed a ban on the entry of migrant workers from the country in December last year. When Taiwan began to experience its own outbreak, it imposed a blanket ban on all migrant workers from entering the country on May 19.

However, strict Level 3 epidemic control measures brought the outbreak under control, with the county seeing cases drop to the single digits for over two months now. In October, Taiwan had reported zero local cases for eight consecutive days.

According to Ministry of Labor (MOL) statistics, Taiwan's migrant worker population surpassed 700,000 in September 2018. After barring entry for Indonesian workers for nearly a year and all other migrant workers for four and a half months, the population dropped to 699,154 in August.

During a session of the Legislative Yuan's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on Thursday (Oct. 7), Kuomintang lawmaker Chang Yu-mei (張育美) asked Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) about the status of lifting the ban on migrant workers.

Hsu said there is a shortage of migrant workers as a result of the entry bans, reported CNA. To address this shortage, Hsu said that inter-ministerial discussions are ongoing about a relaxation of the ban.

She stressed the decision will be made while taking into account epidemic prevention protocols, worker safety, and the needs of companies. The minister expressed her wish that "border restrictions can be loosened at the appropriate time to allow migrant workers in to address the manpower shortage."

Workforce Development Agency Deputy Director-General Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良) said inter-ministerial discussions are leaning toward "being able to moderately loosen and open" the borders to workers. However, Tsai stressed that supporting measures must be discussed, such as how to open up and how to take into account epidemic prevention measures, including the provision of negative PCR test certificates.

Tsai said that when workers enter Taiwan, they must comply with the 14-day quarantine and one week of self-health monitoring. He said that after discussing these factors and confirming the principles, his agency will submit a proposal to the Central Epidemic Command Center with the hope of "moderately loosening" restrictions on the entry of migrant workers.