😷 COVID | Traveling during Covid-19

I flew to the US on November 4th and Taoyuan airport was practically empty. I had already checked in online (United has an app where you submit photos of your passport, PCR test, etc.) and it took only five minutes to get through security and egate. I kid you not. There was a total of one security line open with just two passengers in front of me. That, combined with everyone having their own row on the flight, was like a dream come true.

The doubled price of airfare + cost of the quarantine hotel woke me up from that dream quickly.

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Was anything actually open? Even pre-COVID that airport was already a pretty dire place to wait around for an hour or two.

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I was at terminal 2 around 8:00AM and I expected to find breakfast easily at the food court upstairs. Wrong! Only 2 places were open including Starbucks, thank goodness, because me in the morning without coffee is not a pretty sight. The sign at the McDonald’s there said they didn’t even open until like 11 AM so I guess that shows how dead the airport has been.

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I guess I’m now at 2.5 years since I was in the airport - good to know there’s a new food court in one of the terminals. If I recall correctly, the existence of a Starbucks and a McDonald’s is at least a sign the (very low!) bar for the departures area has risen.

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How do you book a Covid quarantine hotel before you travel? Thinking of visiting home during CNY and worried the hotels will fill up. Also, are they free now or do you still need to pay?

Maybe have a look at this thread:

The next thread is a little old now, but does include this link for a Taipei City Quarantine Hotel FAQ.

These two threads have tons about experiences with quarantine hotels, with bits and pieces about booking them:

Sharing my experience with travelling back to Taiwan from the UK yesterday.

  • I had booked flights with British Airways and Cathay Pacific (London Heathrow - Hong Kong - Taipei)
  • Prepared all the required paperwork:
    1 - ARC
    2 - PCR test results, taken a day before (I used RANDOX as a provider in the UK, their same-day service, Waterloo Station clinic - I paid £60 and got the result within 3 hours)
    3 - Quarantine hotel booking confirmation
    4 - Print-out of the Taiwan Quarantine System Entry
  • Went to the airport 5 hours before the flight as I was quite paranoid about cancellations, issues with paperwork, etc.
  • Good that I did. Exactly as I got at the airport, they announced that BA flight to Hong Kong had been cancelled. BA suspended all their flights to Hong Kong, due to a number of their crew being forced into quarantine camps in Hong Kong, following some close contacts with a Covid case.
  • I rushed into the BA Service Desk and requested them to find me a same-day alternative, as changing the quarantine hotel booking would have been a nightmare
  • I was lucky enough to get a same-day booking with Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul
  • I rushed into a different terminal because the flight was a bit earlier. At the check-in desk they reviewed my documents very thoroughly but overall everything was smooth.
  • Flight to Istanbul uneventful. Full service, most people were maskless, as they were consuming drinks, etc., masks were not strongly enforced.
  • Flight from Istanbul to Taipei delayed from 2AM to 5AM. Wait at the airport was looong and tiring. When the boarding finally started, they checked my ARC and PCR test certificates again at the gate.
  • Flight itself was uneventful.
  • I was impressed with how well everything was organised at the Taoyuan Airport.
    1 - First check-point was the queue to buy SIM cards.
    2 - I already had a SIM card so I was then asked to open the text message that I had received as I landed in Taipei. The text message contained a link to an online portal, where I had to log in using a part of my passport number.
    3 - The portal contained information that I had filled into the Quarantine System Entry form. I was instructed to take screen captures of the content.
    4 - At the next checkpoint I had to present my passport, and I was given a from for the PCR test that I had to take later
    5 - Next was Immigration check, all as per usual (passport + ARC)
    5 - Next was luggage collection and customs, all as per usual
    6 - After the customs at the arrivals hall there was a corridor for the PCR test. I was given a Rapid Test to be used after the Self Management period that follows the Quarantine. I was also given the sample collection items required for my arrival PCR test
    7 - Next, I was directed to the testing booths (outside). They use saliva based PCR test.
    8 - After providing my sample, I was directed to the taxi queue
    9 - At the taxi booking desk, they used the same bar code that I had received before (from the portal that I received a link to via a text message as I landed), to determine where I was going.
    10 - The staff filled in a form for the taxi driver, then they disinfected me and my bags, and I was shown to the taxi. Taxi to Taipei is flat 1,000 NTD. The drivers require cash (I used an ATM at the terminal, before the luggage collection, to get some cash)
    11 - When I arrived to my quarantine hotel, they disinfected my bags again, and showed me to my room. They communicated via Line to get a copy of my passport + screen captures of my Quarantine Entry System forms.

The flight cancellation itself was by far the most stressful aspect of the journey. In Taiwan everything felt very well organised, and actually much easier than I had anticipated. There was plenty of English speaking staff available who made sure nobody got lost or confused.

Now I just need to survive two weeks at the quarantine hotel.

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Did you find anywhere to eat/drink at the airport? I also went to that Starbucks when I flew out in October, but I got “yelled” at for trying to drink my coffee by the gate (several feet away from other people). I ended up saving my coffee and breakfast for the plane, which was sort of annoying since that meant I had to stare at it for an hour…

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We were on the same flight :rofl: And I confirm that the organisation at the airport is great, even better than last year. I received the SMS immediately after landing and I was already on a taxi less than 30 minutes later.

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Good to know they’re not using brain probes at the airport. Someone must have figured out that it’s unlawful (international travel rules forbid invasive tests as a condition for entry).

Let us know how you get on in solitary!

Ha! :slight_smile:
I am staying at Hedo hotel in Ximen. The room is tiny but has a big window that I can open. The view is quite nice.

It is only my 2nd full day but so far so good. Still feeling overwhelmingly happy to be back in Taiwan but I am sure it will wear down as the days go by.

Keeping active and trying to do a lot of exercise at the hotel room. Yesterday’s stats:

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:muscle: :muscle: :v:

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7km in a hotel room, impressive…
:clap:

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Just got this email.

Health Alert – American Institute in Taiwan (04 December 2021)

Location: Worldwide

Event: On December 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will implement a one-day COVID-19 testing requirement for travelers over age two coming to the United States. Regardless of vaccination status or nationality, any individual coming to the United States must show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country, and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

These requirements are for all air passengers two years of age or older boarding a flight to the United States.

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Is a viral Covid test the kind you can buy at a convenience store and get the results right away? I’m guessing that must be the case because getting a PCR test with results one day before a flight is expensive.

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PCR testing costs have come down from the TWD7500 or whatever was being mentioned 6 months back.
Far East Hospital is one example $4500 for same day results, $3500 for next day. So $4500 for the USA requirement if they want it no more than 24 hours old.

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The US has never required PCR testing for entry. Rapid tests are fine.

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There is a new 24 hour PCR requirement due to this new virus if I’m not mistaken. Hopefully it will be short lived.

Rapid tests are still valid: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 | CDC

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I have to say after reading the link that I’m not clear. There’s a lot of double talk on that site.

“Rapid tests are acceptable if they are a viral test that meet the requirements under the Order.”

“You must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Examples of available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include but are not restricted to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA). The test used must be authorized for use by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the country where the test is administered.”

What kind of test did you get for your travel and where?

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Rapid antigen test at Adventist for $1200. Accepted by Asiana for transit through Korea and arrival in the US.

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