Creating a line of defense at the border and keeping the virus out
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, China and the WHO still didn’t understand much about the transmission dynamics of COVID-19, and there was a lack of transparency regarding related information. Therefore, we made border control policies to keep the virus out and prevent the disease from spreading in Taiwan.
President Tsai Ing-Wen inspects the quarantine station at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Decisions and Measures
At the beginning of the pandemic, implementing strict border and quarantine measures to keep the virus at bay
I. Border quarantine measures
(I)From December 31, 2019 to January 23, 2020, onboard quarantine was conducted on direct flights entering from Wuhan. Subsequently, border controls such as border quarantine measures, fever screening of inbound travelers, investigations into travel history, occupation, contact history, and cluster circumstances of suspected cases were implemented to perform health assessments and promote health education.
(II) On February 16, 2020, the “Quarantine System for Entry” went online. With the system, passengers can enter their health information online prior to their flight or upon entry, and their health declaration receipt is automatically sent to them via SMS upon arrival in Taiwan. Passengers can then show their receipt on their phone upon arrival and quickly clear customs, thus improving the efficiency of border control.
II. Risk control
(I) On January 26, 2020, Chinese nationals from Hubei were prohibited from entering.
(II) Starting on February 6, 2020, citizens with a travel history in China, Hong Kong, and Macau must quarantine at home for 14 days. International cruise ships were prohibited from docking at Taiwan’s ports.
(III) On February 11, 2020, all Chinese nationals were barred from entry, and all travelers were required to fill out a “Health Declaration Form”.
(IV) Starting on March 19, 2020, foreign nationals were prohibited from entry (excluding ARC holders and those with special permission). All travelers entering the country must quarantine for 14 days.
(V) Starting on March 21, 2020, travel notices for all countries increased to Level 3: Warning.
(VI) On March 24, 2020, a ban was imposed on foreigner travelers transiting through Taiwan.
Adjusting entry restrictions on a rolling basis based on the global pandemic situation
Thanks to the solidarity and concerted epidemic prevention efforts of front-line epidemic prevention workers, medical workers, and members of the public, Taiwan successfully kept the number of confirmed cases at a low level in the first wave of COVID-19 infections originating from China, the second wave originating from Europe and the United States, and the subsequent global outbreak. In June 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down in China, the CECC launched the New Lifestyle for Disease Prevention campaign to encourage people to return to a normal life. However, COVID-19 continued to spread and the virus mutated, resulting in new variants such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron at the end of 2020. Due to the high uncertainty over the disease's transmissibility and severity, tight border controls remain to be Taiwan's main strategy to respond to the pandemic with entry restrictions and enhanced quarantine measures in place. Entry restrictions and transit travel rules are adjusted on a rolling basis based on the global COVID-19 situation and the effectiveness of implementation of border control measures.
I.Entry requirements for foreigners and people from Hong Kong and Macao
(I) Short-term business travelers
- The CECC issued the Regulations concerning short-term business travelers’ applications for shortened quarantine periods in Taiwan. From June 22, 2020, short-term business travelers could apply for a shortened quarantine period of 5 or 7 days depending on the risk level of infection at the place of departure.
- On January 1, 2021, as the global pandemic situation worsened, a 14-day period of quarantine was reinstated for short-term business travelers, except those who had obtained permission.
- Effective from March 1, 2021, people from low-moderate risk countries/regions were allowed again to apply for shortened quarantine periods in Taiwan.
- From May 19, 2021, the entry of non-Taiwanese nationals without valid Taiwan residence certificates was temporarily suspended.
(II) Entry of migrant workers
In response to developments in the global pandemic situation, the CECC adjusted the entry requirements for migrant workers coming to Taiwan on a rolling basis. Enhanced self-health management was enforced among migrant workers on December 9, 2020; migrant workers would need to undergo self-health management for 7 days after completing the 14-day quarantine at a government quarantine facility or at home. Employers or brokerage firms were required to keep a record of migrant workers' quarantine dates and period, self-health management locations, and other relevant information, so as to track whereabouts of migrant workers and facilitate follow-up care provided by local governments. However, in view of the surges in global and domestic COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Labor, in line with the CECC instructions, enacted a temporary entry ban for migrant workers from May 19, 2021. Related measures were adjusted according to the pandemic situation in migrant workers' home countries. These adjustments included the rules that placed migrant workers in government quarantine facilities upon entry and required tests to be done at the end of their quarantine period. Additionally, in order to satisfy the needs of industries and demand for caregivers, the introduction of migrant workers was permitted on a case by case basis beginning November 11, 2021. In the first stage, migrant workers were required to stay in government quarantine facilities after entry, undergo PCR testing prior to entry, and be isolated in individual rooms for 72 hours prior to boarding. Upon entry, their deep throat saliva samples would be collected for PCR testing before they were transported to group quarantine facilities to quarantine for 14 days, during which they must undergo PCR and rapid testing. After the 14-day quarantine, they must practice 7 days of self-health management at a location designated by the Ministry of Labor.
(III) Foreign students studying in Taiwan
For overseas students returning to Taiwan to study, the Ministry of Education flexibly drew up/adjusted the standard operating procedures and relevant supporting measures for overseas students returning to Taiwan for studies in accordance with the guidelines and regulations issued by the CECC. The efforts aimed to balance safety and epidemic prevention between the right to education of overseas students.
(IV) Patients coming to Taiwan for medical treatment
The CECC adjusted the relevant regulations for foreign nationals eligible to visit Taiwan for medical treatment after considering the stability of domestic COVID-19 situation and medical treatment capacity, so as to sustain Taiwan's high-quality medical services and to realize the spirit of "Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping!"
(V) Transit passengers in Taiwan
In accordance with the principle of "strict border controls and loosened domestic restrictions" and based on the global COVID-19 situation, international passengers were allowed to transit through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
II. Taiwanese nationals stranded abroad
Between February and May of 2020, charter flights were used to carry Taiwanese nationals stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise, Wuhan, India, and other areas affected by COVID-19. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport initiated anchorage quarantine and implemented quarantine protocols including traveler separation, fever screening, and health assessments by doctors. Asymptomatic travelers were transported to group quarantine facilities and suspected cases were provided with medical attention to enhance the management of individuals at risk of infection.
CECC Commander Chen Shih-Chung personally supervises the process of quarantine protocols for passengers on charter flights back to Taiwan from Wuhan.
III. Special measures to improve quarantine efficiency
(I) Travelers entering Taiwan from abroad must provide a COVID-19 PCR test report prior to boardin
Starting from December 1, 2020, regardless of nationality or purpose of entry, all inbound travelers were required to provide a "PCR nucleic acid test report within 3 days (business days) before their scheduled flight." Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant at the end of 2021, this requirement was adjusted from January 4, 2022. Travelers were now required to present a "PCR report within 2 days (calendar days) from the sample collection date".
(II) The CECC enhanced quarantine measures and health monitoring for inbound passengers and domestic airline crew
In response to the global spread of the Delta variant, starting from June 27, 2021, all travelers were required to stay in quarantine hotels (or self-funded government quarantine facilities) upon arrival. After returning to Taiwan, they were required to take quarantine vehicles to these facilities for quarantine. Additionally, from July 2, 2021, all inbound travelers were required to undergo deep-throat saliva PCR testing upon entry at airports and ports, followed by another PCR test before the end of their quarantine period and then take rapid tests. In response to the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant, from January 11, 2022, until May 31, 2022, passengers on flights from Europe, America, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia were required to undergo "on-arrival PCR testing" before entering the airport terminal to prevent confirmed cases from entering and reduce the risk of infection among airport personnel. Moreover, viral genome sequencing and intensified monitoring were conducted on all imported confirmed cases.
With the pandemic under control and slowing down, measures gradually eased
With the pandemic under control and slowing down, coupled with the herd immunity achieved in our country, we are striking a balance between maintaining domestic epidemic control capacity and reviving social and economic activities. Since 2022, Taiwan has been cautiously opening its borders and gradually relaxing related measures.
I. Entry regulations for arriving travelers
(I) Continued relaxation of home quarantine measures
- On March 7, 2022, the home quarantine period for all inbound travelers was changed to 10 days.
- On May 9, 2022, the home quarantine period for all inbound travelers was changed to 7 days.
- On June 15, 2022, the home quarantine period for all inbound travelers was changed to 3 days.
- On October 13, 2022, the home quarantine requirements for inbound travelers were lifted.
(II) Adjustments to inbound passenger cap
- On June 15, 2022, the weekly cap on inbound travelers was adjusted to 25,000.
- On July 7, 2022, the weekly cap on inbound travelers increased to 40,000.
- On August 22, 2022, the weekly cap on inbound travelers was increased to 50,000.
- On October 13, 2022, the weekly cap on inbound travelers was increased to 150,000.
- On December 1, 2022, the weekly cap on inbound travelers was increased to 200,000.
- On December 10, 2022, the cap on inbound travelers was lifted.
(III) Business travelers coming to Taiwan
From March 7, 2022, non-Taiwanese nationals were allowed to enter Taiwan for business activities, including business inspections, investments, contract fulfillment, and job applications.
(IV) Entry of migrant workers
In response to the escalating international and domestic COVID-19 situations, the entry of migrant workers was temporarily suspended starting from May 19, 2021. However, to satisfy the needs of the industry and the demand for caregivers, the Ministry of Labor launched the "Migrant Worker Special Entry Project" approved by the CECC to impose quarantine and testing measures on migrant workers entering Taiwan. The project’s first phase commenced on November 11, 2021. The Ministry of Labor continued negotiations with home countries of migrant workers to ensure their willingness to cooperate with relevant epidemic prevention measures in Taiwan. The project’s second phase began on February 15, 2022. This phase resumed the introduction of migrant workers from various countries and categories, with the requirement for full vaccination before entry. Upon arrival, migrant workers underwent either 14 days of quarantine at home or in government quarantine facilities. They were also required to undergo a PCR test upon entry. Those who tested negative were sent to quarantine hotels for quarantine and self-health management. During this period, both PCR tests and rapid tests needed to be conducted.
Starting from June 15, 2022, the entry and quarantine measures for migrant workers were changed to the "3+4" quarantine policy (3 days of home quarantine upon entry and 4 days of self-health management). During the self-health management period, workers were not allowed to go out to work or change their accommodations. From October 13, 2022, in accordance with the CECC's "0+7" quarantine policy, employers were required to arrange for migrant workers to undergo self-health management in places of accommodation, such as hotel rooms, dormitories, and employers' residences, that meet the principle of one person per room (with a private bathroom). Industrial and non-high-risk social welfare migrant workers who tested negative on rapid tests could engage in approved work during the 7-day self-health management. However, as both domestic and international pandemic situations improved, the CECC relaxed the epidemic prevention measures effective March 20, 2023. Under the new guidelines, only cases with complications (moderate to severe) needed to be reported, and the self-health management measures for incoming travelers were also lifted. As of the same date, the "Migrant Worker Special Entry Project" of the Ministry of Labor also ceased to apply, and the entry of migrant workers was restored to normal from March 20, 2023.
(V) International transit passengers
From June 15, 2022, transit passengers at Taoyuan Airport were allowed. On August 8, 2022, adjustments were made to regulations related to shopping and dining for transit passengers at Taoyuan Airport. Then, on October 13, 2022, in accordance with the CECC's "0+7" quarantine scheme, the regulations for transit passengers in Taiwan were canceled.
II. Removal of COVID-19 measures, a return to normal border surveillance and management
(I) Starting from August 15, 2022, the requirement for all inbound travelers to provide a PCR report taken within 2 days before arrival was lifted. On September 29 of the same year, mandatory saliva-based PCR testing for inbound travelers was discontinued. Then, from October 13, 2022, home quarantine was replaced with 7 days of self-health management. Furthermore, starting from March 20, 2023, mild COVID-19 cases were exempted from isolation and reporting, and self-health management for inbound travelers was canceled.
(II) Regarding quarantine and epidemic prevention for inbound passengers, the pre-pandemic health monitoring and assessment procedures at ports/airports of entry were reinstated. Inbound travelers experiencing physical discomfort or symptoms need to voluntarily report to quarantine stations for assessment and necessary measures upon entry. Fever screening using thermal imaging cameras detects travelers with abnormal body temperatures. This allows for a second temperature check, a re-assessment of health status, and, if necessary, referral to designated hospitals for examination, treatment, and care. This first-line defense ensures the safety of domestic communities.
- Last Updated:2023-08-31
- Data Source:Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare
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