A dear friend of mine – Kelly Cook just arrived in Taiwan from LA after being 3 years away! She was kind enough to jot down some helpful tips and suggestions for those thinking about traveling back for the summer. Here’s Kelly’s account of her journey from door to door, LA to Taipei. Enjoy and thanks Kelly for sharing!
“This is my experience with the quarantine protocol in Taiwan. I arrived on May 4 and am
quarantining for 10 days. (funtaiwankids: they’ve lowered to 7 days quarantine now)
PCR Test for Travel
Prior to departure you are required to do a PCR test within two calendar days of travel. This was
a little tricky because my flight was midnight at 12:15 AM so 2 calendar days gave me only 1 ½
full days in reality. This wasn’t enough time to get the normal PCR results back, so I had to pay
for a rapid PCR test ($159). Make sure you print out the results and have it with you at check in.
There is a Health questionnaire form that you need to fill out prior to arriving. Your airline will send you the link. This form turned out to be tricky for me because I have a US and a Taiwan passport. If that is your situation, on the form you need to fill the first field in with your Taiwan passport number: the second field will be your US passport number; and the third field is your Taiwan ID number. I got this wrong, so I didn’t get my text message upon arrival. Which leads me to the next point.
You need to have a Taiwan phone number (SIM card) so that they can track and contact you.
Upon arrival you will get a text message with your protocol instructions and a barcode. If you
already have a local number, you will get this text within a few minutes of landing. If you do not have a SIM card, you can still fill out the form ahead of time and omit the phone number until you arrive at the airport. You are able to buy a SIM card at the airport. Once you have this local phone number, there are personnel there to help you complete the form. Once the completed form is submitted, you will receive a text message with a link to your completed document. Make sure to take screenshots of each page because it is hard to get back to this page once you navigate away from it. The important thing is to grab the barcode because that will be used for the rest of your airport checkpoints. If all of this sounds confusing, don’t worry there are a lot of personnel there to help. I speak Mandarin so I was able to communicate pretty well with them but I am not sure if there are English speaking staff. (funtaiwankids: there should be)
Once I got through that first stage of getting the oh-so-important text message with the link and the barcode I then proceeded to the health inspection stage. I arrived at the desk and they gave me two rapid tests and provided an information sheet with the end date of my quarantine written on it. This sheet is available in English. I was told to take a rapid test on that day and keep the second test as a backup. Everybody I encountered was extremely helpful and friendly. He wished me well and at this point I went through the rest of the airport procedures such as immigration and baggage claim as per usual.
Once I got my baggage, I went outside to submit my sample for the PCR test. There are stanchions leading the way with a lot of staff guiding me to the designated area. It is out on the street – since regular cars are no longer able to pick up, the entire arrivals pickup area is being used for the testing site. They scanned my barcode, printed out a sticker with my information on it and stuck it on a spit sample container. I went to a partitioned area and spit into the vial up to the drawn line. It is a lot of spit, so I suggest you drink water sometime before you get to this point.
Quarantine Taxi Line
Then I went back to pick up my luggage (there was a security guard watching all the luggage carts) and got in line for the special quarantine taxi. They once again scanned the barcode on my phone (remember to screen grab it!) while I was in the taxi line so by the time I got to the front of the line they had a printed document with my address and information ready to give the Taxi Driver. The driver came to the front of the line and sanitized my luggage and my entire body, including the bottom of my shoes. It is a flat rate of 1000 NT to Taipei, anything above that is subsidized by the government. I paid in cash at the end of my ride. I had cash on me so I don’t know if you are able to use a credit card while you are still at the airport to pay for the ride.
An Inspector Calls
Once I arrived at my quarantine location, I had to keep my phone on at all times. They will track
you! I received a call right away from a health inspector who is my point person, and he called
me every day. On the second day my health inspector dropped off a bag of snacks, masks and
a thermometer. He even said he would take out the trash for me if I needed him to!! I did miss
one call and within 4 minutes I received a call from the police station. It was only 4 minutes! I
explained that I did not hear the phone ring. He says to make sure I have my phone on and the
ringer on high otherwise the police will come and make a personal inspection to make sure I’m
staying in quarantine. The fine for breaking quarantine is anywhere from $200,000 to $1million
NT. That’s pretty serious. I did not escape.
All that being said, they are talking about ending the quarantine for all inbound travelers. This
process requires a ton of government resources, including trash service and for what? The
community spread is the problem right now, not incoming travelers