CORONAVIRUS/Arriving passengers wait in long lines at Taoyuan airport

Taipei, Arriving travelers waited in long lines outside Taoyuan International Airport for a specialized "epidemic prevention transport service" to head for home quarantine Thursday, as Taiwan began to impose strict border controls to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Huang Liang-yi (???), who heads Taoyuan airport's Taxi Office, told CNA that about 300 taxis were needed to transport everyone home.

The lines were so long, drivers at Taipei Songshan International Airport had to be called in for backup, Huang said.

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

With the launch of the special taxi program, the government has contracted cab drivers to provide transport from Songshan, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung international airports under strictly enforced sanitation standards.

On Wednesday, however, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that effective 12 a.m. March 19, all incoming passengers, whether they are Taiwanese or foreign nationals, will be required to be quarantined at home for 14 days regardless of the countries they arrive from, and are banned from taking public transportation from the airport.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), arriving passengers who break the rule by taking public transportation from the airport or during the 14-day quarantine period could be fined up to NT$1 million.

Jaw Shing-hau (???), director-general of MOTC's Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau, added Thursday that passengers have to head straight to their quarantine site from the airport and must not stop along the way unless they have to use a public restroom at a highway rest stop.

In such cases, they must first ask the driver to call the "Highway 1968 hotline" so a janitor is notified at the location to disinfect the toilet immediately after it is used, Jaw said.

Speaking at a committee hearing at the Legislature in Taipei, the transport official said infrared temperature sensing devices will be installed at 15 freeway rest stops by April 1, as part of its epidemic prevention efforts.

He also assured lawmakers that service rest stops are routinely sanitized once every two hours, and the bureau is also planning to set up service stalls outside the rest areas to ensure there are no lines of people waiting.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel