Highest travel warning announced for U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand (CNA file photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will impose its highest Level 3 travel warning on the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand starting Thursday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday, though the effects of the move will be largely superseded by a separate policy mandating 14-day home quarantine for all arriving travelers.

At a press briefing, the CECC said the Level 3 warning urges people to avoid non-essential travel to the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, due to increased risks posed by the coronavirus disease COVID-19, which has spread at a community level in all four countries.

Under the warning, people arriving from travel to, or airport transit through, the countries will be required to home quarantine for 14 days, the CECC said.

While the CECC separately announced Wednesday that it will mandate 14-day home quarantine for all arriving travelers, and ban the entry of foreign nationals, with some exceptions, the designation of a Level 3 warning prohibits returning travelers from seeking specified government benefits.

Under a policy announced Monday, people who make unnecessary trips to a country or region after it has been placed under a Level 3 warning will be unable to apply for the government’s NT$1,000 (US$33) daily home quarantine subsidy.

The restriction comes in response to “a small number of people who intentionally traveled abroad in order to claim” the subsidy, the CECC said in a press release.

As of Wednesday, the CECC had applied Level 3 travel warnings to 97 countries and one region, including virtually all of Asia and Europe.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, only three U.S. states — Washington, New York and California — had been under a Level 3 warning, while the remainder of the U.S. was under a Level 2 alert, and Canada, Australia and New Zealand were under a Level 1 watch.