TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is reportedly planning to reduce the mandatory quarantine in epidemic prevention hotels for people who have been fully vaccinated to seven days during the Lunar New Year and allow returnees to stay in their homes for the last seven days of their quarantine.
The CECC on Nov. 1 announced that as the domestic outbreak has ebbed and the vaccination rate in some countries has increased, the center would reduce the number of days returning Taiwanese must spend in epidemic prevention hotels. Although the mandatory quarantine of 14 days and seven days of self-health monitoring will remain in place, from Dec. 14 to Feb. 14 returnees would be able to stay in their homes for the last four days of their quarantine.
However, given the fact that the average daily price for a room in an epidemic prevention hotel is in excess of US$100 (NT$2,775), many Taiwanese and foreign residents have complained about the exorbitant cost and the looming shortage of rooms. On Wednesday (Nov. 10), Apple Daily cited a source familiar with the matter as saying that in response to the lack of sufficient hotel rooms during the coming Lunar New Year surge, the CECC is planning on reducing the number of required days of hotel quarantine from 10 to seven.
According to the preliminary plan, people who have received the second dose of a COVID vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival will be able to reduce their hotel quarantine from 10 to seven days during the Lunar New Year holiday. The remaining seven days of their quarantine can then be spent at their place of residence.
During a session of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee at the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) stated that discussions on lowering the requirement are indeed underway. Chen said that the new "7 plus 7" measures for those returning during the Lunar New Year have not yet been completed, but the final results should be announced this week.
Chen emphasized that the relaxation of quarantine measures for those returning during the holiday must take into account multiple factors and stand on the basis of Taiwan's societal safety. Once the rules are relaxed, it will inevitably increase the amount of administrative work and COVID tests, cautioned Chen.
The CECC head pointed out that although it is only mid-November, rooms in epidemic prevention hotels are almost fully booked. As a result, some Taiwanese have not yet finalized their travel plans or are still waiting for more news.
Chen said that he understood the urgency that would-be travelers feel, as the longer the delay in information, the more difficulties they will encounter in making arrangements for lodging.