Taipei, Feb. 15 (CNA) Taiwan is considering easing its COVID-19 related border restrictions, starting with the entry of foreign tourists and then lifting the ban on overseas travel by tour groups, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.
Priority will be given to opening the borders to foreign visitors, as that will help increase Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a CECC press briefing.
Taiwan's current ban on group tours to other countries, meanwhile, is aimed at preventing large numbers of people from visiting countries at high risk of COVID-19, but that regulation could be eased with the establishment of "travel bubbles," he said without giving a time frame for revising the travel rules.
On the question of whether only people who have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to travel overseas in tour groups, Chen said the CECC will discuss that issue in its upcoming meetings.
Chen's statements came after Professor Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙) at National Taiwan University's College of Public Health said Taiwan is likely to lift the outbound group tour ban in June, while doctor Hwang Kao-pin (黃高彬) at China Medical University Hospital estimated it will not be until around the end of the year.
On Monday, the Tourism Bureau expressed the hope that Taiwan would relax its international travel restrictions by the third quarter.
Taiwan has maintained strict border entry and travel restrictions since March 21, 2020, when it raised its travel advisories for all countries to Level 3, generally banned most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, and mandated 14-day quarantine for those allowed to enter.
(By Chiang Hui-chun, Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Chieh-ling and Evelyn Kao)Enditem/pc