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Taiwan to fully reopen borders in October to end COVID quarantine for travelers

The government said on Thursday that Taiwan will fully reopen its borders next month by ending the mandatory COVID quarantine for arrivals.

The island has largely kept its borders closed and implemented strict quarantine rules during the coronavirus pandemic, keeping infection numbers low at the cost of being cut off internationally.

The government started moving away from its zero-Covid strategy in April, when its population was thoroughly vaccinated.

Cabinet spokesman Lou Ping-cheng quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang as saying on Thursday that from October 13, officials would end the quarantine and asked to self-monitor for seven days.

Visitors currently have to undergo a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine, followed by four days of self-monitoring, where they are expected to avoid crowded places.

Low said visa-free travel for travelers from some countries would resume on September 29 and restrictions on tour groups would be lifted in October.

Read more: US Senate takes first step to provide military aid to Taiwan

The new measures “will allow the public to fully return to normal life, Taiwan will be more proactive and prosperous to open its door to welcoming tourists and all industries”, he said.

But some experts in the tourism industry said Taiwan would still struggle to compete for visitors with other destinations in the region because of its self-monitoring rules.

“The whole world has opened up except China and Taiwan, and Taiwan is already too slow and too late,” said Robert Cao, an expert in tourism management and operations at Tainan University of Technology.

He described seven days of self-monitoring without any quarantine as “meaningless”, and added that “tourists will choose countries like Japan or South Korea where there are no such restrictions”.

Taiwan saw nearly six million domestic coronavirus infections this year, according to official figures, although more than 99 percent of those infected had mild or no symptoms, with a mortality rate of 0.16 percent.

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