Taiwan’s tourist season is on track to start on Thursday, as the country’s government tries to prevent the spread of a coronavirus that has killed hundreds of people in the past year.
More than 300,000 people have died in Taiwan since the virus was discovered in late March, and the number of infections is expected to reach as high as 2 million by the end of the year, according to the Ministry of Health.
But the pandemic, which has killed about half a million people and displaced millions, has also forced the government to curtail the number and duration of trips, with the latest restrictions taking effect on Monday.
The first two weeks of the season will be reserved for visitors from China, the region’s most popular tourist destination.
China is Taiwan’s main trading partner and home to about 80 percent of its economy.
Taiwan is one of the most important destinations in the world for foreign tourists, with more than 90 percent of them coming from mainland China, a country that has become one of Taiwan’s most heavily infected.
The government is also encouraging people to postpone or cancel travel to some of the world’s most populous countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, and urged travelers to stay away from areas where the virus is known to have been active.
Tourism was already one of tourism’s top concerns, and many businesses are shutting down.
The tourism ministry said it would offer discounts and incentives for the first time in nearly a decade, and a new tax on alcohol will go into effect on Jan. 1.
The economy is expected be stronger, though.
The government is expecting to see an estimated 2.4 percent growth in the season that ends March 20, according the Ministry for Tourism and Culture.
The economy will be hit harder by the coronaviruses, but it is expected that businesses will continue to grow, with about a third of businesses expected to remain open, according government data.
The health ministry said the outbreak of coronavirence has killed more than 200 people and caused about a million deaths worldwide, including at least 1,000 deaths in Taiwan, and that the country is recovering from the worst outbreak since the pandemics that began in 1976.
More from GlobalPost:What you need to know about coronaviral diseaseInfections have increased in some countries in the region, with New Zealand reporting the highest number of cases.
But a government report released on Tuesday said the pandep has reduced cases in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and has reduced mortality rates in other parts of the region.
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Taipei has said it will ban alcohol sales in most restaurants, bars, theaters and nightclubs, and will ban smoking in most public places.
The capital has also been working to reduce the spread and number of coronas, which have killed more people than any other infectious disease in the Pacific island.
Taiwans will not be able to purchase and use any new electronic devices for the foreseeable future.
A ban on new cellphones, smart phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices has been in effect since late March.
The country is also limiting outdoor activities and will begin a ban on public gatherings on Monday, the ministry said.
Tourists are urged to take extra precautions to prevent exposure to the coronas.
They should also be careful when entering public places and not allow pets into buildings.