Taiwan will end its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for arrivals from October 13 and welcome tourists back, the government said on Thursday, completing a major step on its plan to re-open to the outside world.
Taiwan had kept some of its entry and quarantine rules in place as large parts of the rest of Asia relaxed or lifted them completely, although in June it cut the number of days required in isolation for arrivals to three from seven previously.
Taiwan has reported 6.3 million domestic cases since the beginning of the year, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant. With more than 99% of those showing no or only mild symptoms, the government has relaxed restrictions in its "new Taiwan model".
Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters that with a well vaccinated population and the pandemic under control at home, the time had come to re-open borders.
Arrivals will still need to monitor their health for a seven day period and take rapid tests, but tourists will be allowed to return, he added.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The government had previously said it was aiming for an October 13 re-opening.
A series of other measures came into force on Thursday, including ending PCR tests for arrivals and resuming visa-free entry for citizens of all countries that previously had that status.Throughout the pandemic Taiwanese citizens and foreign residents have not been prohibited from leaving and then re-entering, but have had to quarantine at home or in hotels for up to two weeks.