Taiwan not on EU safe travel list because of reciprocity factor: CECC

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung responds to the EU's travel restrictions against Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of the CECC)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced on July 1 that Taiwan passed in flying colors in all areas of the European Union’s (EU) safe travel considerations, except for the reciprocity portion.

Speaking at a press conference earlier that day, Chen explained that Taiwan is not among the countries exempted from the European Union’s COVID-19 travel ban because of the reciprocity condition. 

The 14 countries to be lifted from the travel ban include Australia, Canada, Japan, Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

The EU created the list of countries after taking into account their number of infections in the past 14 days, whether the rate of infection per 100,000 people was lower or similar to that of the European Union and whether the number of new cases was decreasing or stabilizing.

The EU also took into consideration factors such as testing, monitoring, quarantining, epidemic control, contact tracing and treatment.

They also considered the social distancing methods of the country and the impact of COVID-19 on the society and economies of these countries.

Finally, the last criterion was reciprocity, meaning that the country that the EU allows travel from also needs to allow EU travelers into its country. 

Chen did not address whether Taiwan would be removing any of its travel restrictions meaning that Taiwan will continue to bar entry of most travelers from around the globe, including Europe, as Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) still classifies the whole world under its highest alert level for COVID-19.

However, the minister believes the EU should not hold Taiwan to its own standards given the different conditions of the pandemic in different parts of the world.

The EU’s decision was not a surprise as earlier on Tuesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) anticipated that Taiwan would not be among the countries exempted by the EU’s travel ban in part because of this principle of reciprocity.