International flight passengers arriving at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday formed long lines at the airport taxi and vehicle rental services following an announcement on Wednesday by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that all inbound travelers would be subject to mandatory 14-day home quarantine.
The new disease-prevention policy, which took effect at 12am yesterday, also bars entry to foreign nationals except for alien resident certificate holders, members of diplomatic or official missions, those honoring a business contract and people granted special permission by Taiwan’s representative office in their home nation.
Travelers placed under 14-day quarantine are not allowed to take public transport, and must either be picked by relatives or take the disease-prevention taxi and vehicle rental service.
The new CECC policy resulted in a long line extending up to 100m at the airport taxi station yesterday morning. Taiwan International Airport Corp (TIAC) deployed airport security personnel to maintain order at the taxi stop and asked for assistance from drivers of the disease-prevention taxi fleet at the Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) to help transport travelers.
The airport operator had earlier assured the public that the service has enough vehicles to transport inbound travelers.
Asked why there were long lines, service representative Huang Liang-yi (黃良易) said that all inbound travelers were required to fill in contact information in detail before they were allowed to use the service.
Moreover, only a few of the travelers had arranged for pickup by relatives at the airport, he said.
Kuo Kuang Motor Transportation also provides bus services to those traveling to central and southern Taiwan, TIAC chief executive officer Lin Hsiang-sheng (林祥生) said at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee.
Each tour bus can only carry about 20 passengers at a time, he said, adding that passengers must ensure they have family members who would pick them up after getting off the bus, or they would have to rent a vehicle.
TIAC said it was expecting 8,881 people to arrive yesterday, who were to be served by the disease-prevention vehicle fleet of 400 taxis, 20 rental vehicles and 50 buses.
Travelers heading to Taipei, New Taipei City, Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu County are supposed to take the taxi service, while those traveling to Taichung, as well as Miaoli, Changhua, Nantou, Yilan and Hualien counties are supposed to take rental vehicles, and those traveling to Tainan and Kaohsiung, as well as Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties are expected to take the bus, it said.
However, between 5am and 7am yesterday, about 1,000 travelers arrived, most of whom live in southern Taiwan and did not have relatives to pick them up, TIAC said.
As there were not enough rental vehicles available at the time, some passengers had to wait longer, it added.
National Freeway Bureau Director-General Chao Hsin-hua (趙興華) warned that people taking disease-prevention vehicles are not allowed to enter the shopping areas of freeway rest areas.
If they have to use the restrooms at the rest areas, drivers have to call the freeway bureau service hotline 1968 so the bureau can have the facilities disinfected after use, the bureau said.
It added that 34 infrared thermometers would be installed in all 15 freeway rest areas across the nation by April 1.
Before the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday next month, all freeway rest areas would have drive-through zones for people taking disease-prevention vehicles to buy food, water and refreshments instead of visiting shopping areas, it added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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