Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Major cities in Taiwan begin reopening nonessential businesses. Other restrictions remain in place. Entry ban, social distancing ongoing.

This alert affects Taiwan

This alert began 20 May 2020 09:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Taiwan (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Social distancing measures, entry ban, increased immigration and customs screening times, quarantine measures, flight disruptions

Summary
Several major cities in Taiwan are beginning to reopen more closed businesses - primarily entertainment venues - as of May 20, amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity on the island. Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu is allowing businesses, such as karaoke bars, massage parlors, and dance venues, that meet Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) requirements to reopen from May 20. Meanwhile, officials in Taipei will permit affected businesses to resume operations from May 21 after passing inspections and completing training for contact tracing. Officials in Tainan have already allowed similar businesses to resume.

The announcements come after the CECC outlined requirements for businesses to reopen May 11, but delegated the decision to local authorities. Under CECC requirements, owners must ensure customers can maintain the recommended 1.5 meters (5 feet) of distance inside establishments, require everyone to wear masks, implement body temperature checks, and provide handwashing supplies or equipment at entrances, before reopening. Affected businesses also need to establish a system to gather contact information, control the flow of customers, and pass fire and building safety inspections. Other local officials have yet to open affected businesses, and the timeline for a full resumption of routine business activity is likely to vary by county or municipality.

Officials continue to encourage social distancing measures across Taiwan. The CECC continues to advise people to remain 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart indoors and 1 meter (3 feet) apart outside. Regulations on large public gatherings remain in place. However, authorities have reopened some facilities, such as baseball stadiums, for up to 1,000 people.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications continues to require that passengers on trains and inter-city buses, travelers entering highway rest stops, and customers at Chunghwa Post offices wear masks. Officials have also installed thermal scanners at rail stations, airports, ports, post offices, and bus hubs across the island. Staff will deny entrance for any passenger with a fever. Enhanced screening measures are likely to cause delays at transport hubs across the island, especially at airports in Taipei (TPE, TSA) and Kaohsiung (KHH) and main railway stations. Authorities have not stipulated any penalties for defying social distancing measures. However, officials have warned that they could establish fines and other punishments in the future, depending on the public's adoption of the requirement.

Officials have extended restrictions on flights to mainland China indefinitely. Under the measures, airlines are only allowed to fly to airports in Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (SHA, PVG), Xiamen (XMN), and Chengdu (CTU). Taiwan-based carriers China Airlines (CA) and EVA Air (BR) continue to cancel most flight services to mainland China. Several airlines serving international routes have also canceled flights to the island amid reduced demand. Taiwan continues to ban cruise ships from docking at ports on the island. Reduced demand for travel within Taiwan has prompted the cancellation of some domestic flights and high-speed rail services.

Travel Restrictions

An entry ban for foreign nationals also remains in place; however, exceptions are in place for foreign residents, diplomats, and business travelers executing contracts. Authorities have extended a ban on international transit passengers indefinitely. All arriving passengers, regardless of nationality or residency, must self-quarantine for 14 days. Authorities are requiring some inbound travelers from Southeast Asian countries to undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-designated hotels. Officials will direct arriving passengers living with people with chronic illnesses, children younger than six years old, or adults older than 65 to the facilities. Health officials continue intensified screenings for arriving passengers, including blood samples from passengers who display respiratory symptoms or fever. Passengers bound for Taiwan who do not accurately report their travel history could face fines of up to NTD 150,000 (USD 5,000).

Advice
Postpone travel to Taiwan if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm entry requirements before traveling to Taiwan. Follow all official instructions. Allow additional time for health screenings when arriving in or traveling across Taiwan. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny, delays, and quarantine.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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