The government is not likely to raise the cap on the number of inbound travelers before the end of this month, despite the apparent effect on the number of inbound flights, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday last week eased quarantine rules for inbound travelers, who must undergo three days of home quarantine upon arrival and spend another four days in self-initiated disease prevention.
It also capped the number of inbound travelers to 25,000 per week.
Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times
The weekly limit has drawn criticism that it has limited the number of flights to Taiwan and caused ticket prices to skyrocket. The shortage of inbound flights is expected to worsen, as the nation is soon to enter the summer travel season.
Wang told reporters on the sidelines of the EU-Taiwan Electric Vehicle Conference that the ministry had tried to address the matters at interdepartmental disease prevention meetings.
“Currently, only three groups of people are allowed to enter the country: business travelers, migrant workers and Taiwanese nationals as well as Alien Resident Certificate holders,” Wang said. “The cap on inbound travelers would be kept at 25,000 people per week until the end of the month, considering the nation’s medical capacity.”
“Any change in this policy would be contingent upon the COVID-19 pandemic situation and whether the nation’s healthcare system can cope with a potential surge in the number of positive cases, and the CECC is in charge of these matters,” he said.
Wang also said that it would be difficult for the government to control the rising prices of international flight tickets.
“The demand for international flights outweighs the supply. We hope this is only a short-term phenomenon,” he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), who is also the deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, yesterday said that the nation has only recently eased the quarantine requirements for inbound travelers.
“We are examining whether people are complying with the new regulations, which allow people to leave their residences after completing a three-day quarantine only if they test negative with rapid test kits on the fourth day,” Lo said.
Lo also said on Monday that the center does not plan to increase the cap on inbound travelers this week, but would ask the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Tourism Bureau to evaluate the number of flights that would be needed, as well as the availability of quarantine hotels and quarantine taxis.
In other news, Wang told participants of the electric vehicle conference that Taiwan plans to boost the number of charging stations nationwide through government subsidies, particularly those at public facilities.
The National Development Council earlier this year announced the pathway to achieving net zero carbon emission by 2050.
To reach that goal, the ministry will ensure that all cars and motorcycles sold on the market are powered by electricity by 2040, Wang said.
Buses should be fully electrified by 2030, he said.
So far, the nation has only about 2,000 charging stations and electric buses only account for about 8.2 percent of the buses nationwide, he said.
The government would have charging stations installed at important transport hubs, such as freeway rest areas, hotels, parking spaces, and railway and bus stations, Wang said, adding that motorists would be able to learn the locations of charging stations through an app.
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