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Taiwan ends vaccine mandate for tour groups

Tour group participants need only present negative COVID test result 48 hours in advance

(Pexels, Min An photo)

(Pexels, Min An photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Tourism Bureau on Monday (June 20) announced that it is ending the requirement that domestic tour group participants receive three doses of COVID vaccines and can instead present proof of a negative COVID test result received 48 hours prior to the trip.

Since April 22, members of local tour groups have been required to present proof of having received three doses of the COVID vaccine. The move prompted protests from the tourism sector claiming that the rule would inflict economic hardship, with up to 50% of travelers having canceled their bookings with travel agencies, according to Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Andy Chiu (邱臣遠).

During a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) press conference on Monday afternoon, Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Lin Hsin-jen (林信任) announced that amid sagging participation in tour groups and an increase in vaccination rates, participants in tour groups will no longer be required to present proof of three COVID vaccination shots, effective immediately.

Lin said that since the implementation of the vaccine requirement, the vaccination coverage rate for the third dose reached 68.9%, about 92.94% of those eligible, by June 16. Lin stated that after a discussion was held with tour companies, considering the impact on the tourism industry, increased vaccination rate, the strong adoption of epidemic prevention measures by the public, and with the downward trend of the outbreak, the three-dose requirement for tour groups has been discontinued.

Would-be members of tour groups now only need to present proof of a negative COVID test result 48 hours before the trip. Lin emphasized that this loosening of the regulations should encourage the public to take part in tour groups, but that CECC epidemic prevention regulations must still be followed.

Lin urged tour group organizers to strictly implement recommended epidemic prevention measures such as taking body temperatures, ensuring travelers wear masks at all times, providing disinfectant, promoting hand washing, and limiting the number of people visiting the same scenic spot at a given time.

He also called on people eligible for the third dose and travel industry workers to receive the jabs as soon as possible to enhance the protective effects of the vaccine.