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Taiwan looking at alternative quarantine measures for Lunar New Year

Maximum of 33,000 quarantine rooms available, various other arrangements being considered

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(Pixabay photo)

(Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said he is looking at alternative measures to cope with a possible lack of quarantine hotel rooms during the coming Lunar New Year.

More than 31,000 people are expected to return to Taiwan for the traditional get-together. In order to contain the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has since June 27 required all travelers entering Taiwan to live in quarantine hotels or centers for 14 days.

At a hearing in Taiwan’s legislature on Monday (Oct. 25) Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Yeh Yu-lan (葉毓蘭) asked Chen whether the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) had a plan B if all the quarantine hotels are full during the Lunar New Year holiday in three months. This is when a great many overseas Taiwanese, including business people return to Taiwan to reunite with their families, CNA reported.

Yeh said some quarantine hotels are overpriced and of inferior quality. She mentioned that a fire broke out in one of the quarantine hotels in Changhua.

In response, the minister said 31,000 people arrived in Taiwan in a 20-day period during this year’s Lunar New Year. He added that he expected more people to come back for the holiday next year.

Currently, Taiwan has 33,000 quarantine rooms, including 5,700 rooms in quarantine centers and about 26,000 rooms in quarantine hotels. After taking stock of all available facilities, just about 1,000 quarantine rooms will be left after bookings for the period from Jan. 1-16 next year, which might not be enough, Chen added.

Chen said it’s not easy to increase the number of quarantine hotels as business at regular hotels has been good due to a boom in domestic travel. Conversely, quarantine hotel occupancy rates were only 53% and 58% in September and October, respectively.

Some quarantine hotels have considered exiting the scheme, he added. The CECC is actively looking into alternative measures that can solve the problem and will make an announcement in two weeks, Chen was reported as saying.