Travelers risk fines for bucking rules on transport to quarantine sites

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Arriving passengers who are required to remain in home quarantine for 14 days will be subject to a maximum fine of NT$1 million (US$32,965) if they board any public transportation during the quarantine period, Taiwan authorities said Wednesday.

The fines took effect Wednesday after a one-week grace period to give arriving travelers time to learn about the new policy, which applies to those who are required to self-quarantine on arrival due to the risk of the COVID-19 coronavirus but do not have their own transportation.

According to Taiwan’s current regulations, travelers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Italy and Iran must remain in home quarantine for 14 days, as those countries and areas are under a Level 3 travel warning, the highest on the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) three-tier scale.

In a bid to close loopholes in Taiwan’s COVID-19 preventative efforts, the government on March 4 launched a special taxi service at major airports to transport passengers arriving from the countries and areas listed in the Level 3 travel warning who do not have private transportation.

During the March 4-10 trial period, the service was used by some 750 people arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, the country’s main gateway, according to the airport management company.

That number accounted for 31.7 percent of total arrivals at the airport from the six listed areas during the seven-day period, Taoyuan International Airport Corp. (TIAC) said in a press release.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), the government has contracted 1,200 taxis at Taipei Songshan International Airport, 600 at Taoyuan International Airport and 413 at Kaohsiung International Airport to transport arriving passengers to their home quarantine locations.

Starting Wednesday, those passengers who break the rule by taking public transportation from the airport or during the 14-day quarantine period will risk a fine of up to NT$1 million, the ministry said.

Passengers are required to wear a face mask for the duration of the taxi ride, while the driver must wear both a mask and gloves and keep the car windows open, the MOTC said.

It said the government has supplied the taxi drivers with cleaning alcohol to sanitize their vehicles before and after each trip.