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Taiwan poised to open borders to business travelers in March

Taiwan mulling allowing foreign tour groups if business traveler program goes smoothly

Stock image of business travelers. (CDC photo)

Stock image of business travelers. (CDC photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The head of Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (Feb. 17) said that the country is planning on opening its borders to business travelers in March and is looking to shorten quarantine to seven days by April.

During a press conference on Thursday, members of the media asked CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) if there are plans in the works to open up the borders to foreign tourists. Chen responded by saying that the current plan is to allow business travelers to enter the country in March.

Chen said that if this phase of opening to business travelers goes smoothly and COVID cases are kept under control, the CECC would consider allowing overseas tour groups to enter and domestic tourist groups to go overseas. He said that in the future, if the situation with COVID cases is similar in Taiwan and Japan, the country would consider opening up its borders on a reciprocal basis.

Given the shortened incubation period for Omicron, Chen on Monday (Feb. 14) said that the country's quarantine policy is moving toward "shortening the number of home quarantine days to 10 days, and implementing self-health management for seven days after the quarantine period expires." Chen emphasized that the center is hoping that the shortened quarantines can "begin before mid-March."

At a press briefing on Monday, Tourism Bureau Director Chang Hsi-tsung (張錫聰) also said Taiwan could allow foreign tourists starting from the third or fourth quarter under the condition they are vaccinated to a certain degree. Regarding the qualifications for shortened quarantines for business travelers, Chang said the tourism bureau is still working out what types of business people will be included.

During a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 16), Chen stated that the next phase includes a "consideration" of lowering the quarantine further to seven days. He said that key factors the CECC will be looking at include whether the majority of cases are detected within seven days and whether the Ct value after one week is high after that period.

He estimated a decision can be made after one month of implementation of the 10-day quarantine, indicating that an adjustment to a seven-day quarantine is possible by April. At the Thursday press briefing, when asked to verify that the CECC is looking to lower the quarantine period to seven days by April, Chen responded by saying "of course it's possible."

However, he stressed that it depends on the pandemic situation. Chen said that in the future, in addition to allowing business travelers to enter, borders will be gradually opened to all non-residents.