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Taiwan negotiating with Philippines, Vietnam on opening borders to migrant workers

MOFA in talks with with Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand

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Filipinos queue for cash subsidy from government in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Reuters photo)

Filipinos queue for cash subsidy from government in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Thursday (Nov. 11) confirmed that Indonesian workers can begin entering Taiwan and stated that negotiations are underway to enable workers from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand to enter as well.

During a press conference on Thursday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that it will reopen Taiwan's borders to migrant workers on the condition they follow domestic and overseas epidemic prevention measures, including two weeks of quarantine. MOL Workforce Development Agency Director-General Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良) said that the overseas epidemic prevention measures include requiring governments participating in the program to implement an epidemic prevention plan for labor brokers and training institutions.

Before departing for Taiwan, workers must obtain a health certificate from their government, and this is to be presented to the local Taiwan representative office when they apply for a visa. Before boarding their flight to Taiwan, workers must be isolated in individual quarantine rooms for 72 hours. The governments of workers' countries of origin are required to provide a list of up to 50 testing institutions, which they will submit to the CECC for approval to ensure the quality of their PCR tests.

In addition, the workers must undergo a PCR test before they can enter a training institution and before entering Taiwan. They must also undergo PCR testing once they enter the airport and before the end of their quarantine.

If the test result at the end of quarantine is negative, workers can then begin seven days of self-health monitoring at a location designated by the MOL. During this period, they will also be subject to one rapid antigen test.

Tsai stressed that from Nov. 11 to Feb. 14, all migrant workers who enter the country must undergo a quarantine. However, due to the large influx of overseas Taiwanese returning for the Lunar New Year, foreign migrant workers will be temporarily barred from entry, or admitted in reduced numbers, starting Dec. 15.

The MOL on Nov. 1 proposed a plan in which migrant workers would be allowed in this month according to a points system. The points will be allotted based on a worker's vaccination status, the average number of weekly COVID cases in their country, and the type of accommodations provided by their employer.

After the points are tallied up, workers with the highest total will be prioritized to enter Taiwan first. Factory workers and domestic caregivers will be assessed separately and granted entry with a 1:1 ratio.

In the event that workers have the exact same score, priority will be given to those with the earliest visa start date. If the visa start dates are the same, priority will be decided through a random drawing.

Tsai stated that the Cabinet's Financial Supervisory Commission and other ministries have arranged for medical and commercial insurance for the workers. Employers must provide workers with a total of NT$500,000 in medical and commercial insurance before they enter the country to cover isolation as well as medical expenses that could be incurred if they are diagnosed with COVID in Taiwan.

Tsai confirmed an announcement by the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday that the first wave of Indonesian workers will be allowed to enter Taiwan from Nov. 11-23. Tsai emphasized that Taiwan is currently negotiating with the governments of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand on allowing workers from those countries to enter too.

He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is assisting in talks with these countries and that once an agreement has been confirmed, a public announcement will be made.