Across the two years of the pandemic Taiwan’s borders have remained locked up tighter than the skin of a ceremonial Chinese drum, but celebratory lion dances could soon be welcoming tourists back to the island-nation’s shores.
Earlier this month, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung flagged the possibility of releasing a plan on reopening Taiwan’s borders in April as part of a “coexistence” with the virus.
While the country has experienced a surge in domestic tourism and spending as holidaymakers shun overseas travel, leading to the highest level of employment in two decades, it’s also becoming hard to ignore that most of its Asian neighbours have removed quarantine measures while reducing or eliminating testing.
Taiwan currently requires most visitors to undergo 10 days of quarantine on arrival, although invited business travellers from selected countries are exempt from quarantine.
In the short term, Chen says “there will still be quarantine, but the number of days may change” and be further trimmed to seven – still an unappealing prospect for almost all travellers.
And there are signs Taiwan won’t follow the lead of other countries in completely throwing open its borders without quarantine for vaccinated travellers before the end of year.
Speaking at a press conference on March 23, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said of such as move “it is impossible this year. This will be a difficult thing to predict.”
Taiwan’s China Airlines, EVA Air and newcomers Starlux are all understandably eager to resume international flying, although it now looks less likely that Qantas will make good on the prospect of starting direct flights to Taipei.