The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists.
The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei.
Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the nation for now.
Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital
The Ministry of Education yesterday said that officials at a recent Cabinet meeting decided that they would have to wait until the international COVID-19 situation further subsides before deciding when to allow foreign students in based on the nation’s quarantine capacity.
Chen said the center would not adopt a “principle of reciprocity,” in which Taiwan would open its borders to travelers from countries that offer the same privilege to Taiwanese.
The COVID-19 situation is different in many places, he said, adding that every nation has its own set of standards for loosening travel restrictions, and a responsibility toward its people.
Taiwan has its own standards for lifting travel ban, he said, adding that the standards are in place to protect the public.
For important business or trade-related travel, the center might consider shortening travelers’ quarantine period while ensuring the safety of the community, he added.
The center reported no new cases of COVID-19.
Among the nation’s 443 confirmed cases, 428 patients had been released from isolation as of yesterday, it said.
The death toll remained at seven.
Meanwhile, in response to concerns about whether residents at long-term care facilities would be allowed to leave to vote in tomorrow’s recall election of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), Chen said only people who are undergoing mandatory quarantine or isolation are prohibited from going outside.
The center has not restricted any other groups from going out to vote, he said.
As residents at long-term care facilities tend to be older, he advised them to wear a mask and follow hand hygiene.
If social distancing cannot be maintained, they must wear a mask, he added.
After Sunday, travelers must still wear masks inside Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations during peak hours, but would not be required to do so during off-peak hours when social distancing can be maintained, he said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications in a statement on Wednesday announced that starting Sunday, travelers would still be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken when entering public transport stations, but once inside, they may take off their masks if social distancing can be maintained or if there are barriers separating them from other travelers.
Additional reporting by CNA
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