The General Chamber of Commerce (全國商業總會) yesterday called on the government to lift domestic travel restrictions and open the nation’s borders to international business travelers next month.
The plea came after Taiwan yesterday recorded 39 consecutive days without a domestic infection and reported its first imported case in nearly two weeks.
“Taiwan should enter the post-COVID-19 era and open its borders, as European countries like Italy plan to do so next month,” chamber chairman Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) told a news conference in Taipei.
As the nation has remained ahead of the rest of the world in the fight against the novel coronavirus — with 441 confirmed cases and seven deaths — it is in a safe position to jumpstart its economy, he said.
Travel restrictions and social distancing requirements have wreaked havoc on airlines, restaurants, hotels and other domestic demand-oriented businesses, putting more than 21,000 people on unpaid leave, he added.
A survey conducted by the chamber found that occupancy rates at hotels averaged less than 10 percent from March to early this month, while tourist properties fared slightly better at 15 percent, Lai said.
It is time for the government to lend a helping hand and introduce stimulus measures, such as the distribution of consumption vouchers, to stimulate the tourism industry, he said.
Health authorities have said that they would mull easing restrictions on foreign business travelers, subjecting them to “home” quarantines shorter than the current 14 days.
Social distancing is likely to remain in place until a vaccine is available.
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