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Taiwan eyeing 7, 5, 3-day quarantines

Chen says May probably too early to open Taiwan to tourism

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(Freepik photo)

(Freepik photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Monday (March 14) that the center is making plans for shorter quarantines for arrivals from overseas.

While attending a banquet at the Taipei Hotel Association that evening, Chen told the media that plans are in the works to shorten the current 10-day quarantine to seven, five, or even three days. Chen said that if the pandemic situation in Taiwan stabilizes in the next month or so, the quarantine may first be shortened to seven days.

Chen acknowledged it is impossible to revive tourism without compromising quarantine policy and that the best course is to gradually reduce the number of quarantine days. He pointed out that shortening the quarantine to seven days may result in 3.5% of COVID cases going undetected, and that percentage rises to 20% with five days. "That's when the challenge begins," he said.

However, Chen said that when it comes to travel itineraries, if the number of quarantine days cannot be reduced to under five days, "the benefits will be very low." Given the current pandemic situation overseas and the local outbreak, "I'm afraid May is probably too early" for free and open travel to Taiwan.

Some travel agencies have proposed a "357" scheme for opening the country to tourism, with business travel allowed in March, inbound tourism permitted in May, and outbound tour groups starting in July. However, Chen believes that since the pandemic is constantly in flux, it is difficult to set such hard deadlines for reopening the borders.

Chen emphasized that discussions of preparedness and how to deal with infections among hotel staff or guests must continue with the Taipei Hotel Association. As for tourism bubbles, Chen said that travel industry proposals, the pandemic, and the accuracy of the country's PCR tests must be taken into consideration, and it is currently difficult to predict which countries would make suitable candidates.