French people

Foreign missions ask for more flexible controls

‘COUNTER PRODUCTIVE’:
German, French and Singaporean missions say Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions hamper local projects and business operations

Several foreign missions to Taiwan have urged the government to ease its strict COVID-19 border controls, which they say hamper in-person trade and business operations.

The missions made the call in response to media inquiries about how border controls have affected their respective countries’ trade with Taiwan, amid growing concerns privately voiced by foreign offices and companies based in Taiwan over restrictions.

Taiwan has maintained strict entry requirements since March last year, generally banning most arrivals except citizens and foreign residents, while it has required those entering the country to submit. to a strict 14-day quarantine.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Although the rules have been adjusted slightly over the past 18 months, they have been particularly strict since May 19, when Taiwan experienced an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 infections.

At present, exceptions to the ban on visitors can only be made in emergencies or for humanitarian reasons, but in such circumstances, those affected should apply to the Command Center in advance. Central Epidemic (CECC) authorization to enter the country.

Asked about the controls, the French office in Taipei said the French community in Taiwan was grateful for the measures “which make us safer here than in any other part of the world.”

However, he called on local authorities to consider gradually easing restrictions to allow entry of more international travelers, “especially those who are fully vaccinated.”

The visa suspension has had a significant effect on French companies operating in Taiwan, causing disruption to their workforce, the office said in a written response.

“They cannot bring in the foreign experts they need for the implementation of certain critical projects, especially in the manufacturing industry (particularly semiconductors), but also in transport infrastructure projects (metro) or in the energy sector (offshore wind), “It said.

The German Taipei Institute said German companies need experts to enter Taiwan so that companies can continue to operate and implement new projects.

For example, in the offshore wind sector, border controls “are very counterproductive because projects cannot be completed on time”.

The German section of the European School is still lacking three new teachers who cannot come to Taiwan because their family members are not allowed to accompany them, he added.

The European Economic and Trade Office said it understands the need for stringent measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, “but there is a clear feeling among the international community here – diplomats, expatriates, students, families – that Taiwan is missing person-to-person contact.

“It is much more difficult to bring in staff and their families from abroad. Everyone is looking forward to more flexible measures so that normal trade can resume, ”he said.

Singapore’s top envoy to Taiwan, Yip Wei Kiat (葉偉傑), shared the same concerns and urged Taiwan to learn from Singapore’s example by gradually opening up its borders.

Since the COVID-19 situation in Singapore and Taiwan stabilized at the end of last year, Singapore has unilaterally opened its borders to travelers from Taiwan, he said.

Travelers who met the criteria were given only one polymerase chain reaction test upon arrival in Singapore, and they could cross the border without quarantine if they were negative, he added.

In response, Centers for Disease Control deputy director general Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the spokesperson for CECC, said strict disease prevention measures have been imposed to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. enter Taiwan.

Foreign companies in Taiwan wishing to bring in foreign employees must have an application approved by the CECC, but even those who are allowed to enter are subject to a 14-day quarantine, like everyone else, he said.

If a company wishes to shorten the quarantine period for an employee brought in from abroad, it must file a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan with the government unit in charge of its line of business before that agency transmits the report. plan to CECC for approval, he said.

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