Taiwan’s EVA airline laid on a Hello Kitty-themed aircraft that flew passengers along the coastline and over Japan’s Ryuku islands. A similar sightseeing flight offered by Australian airline Qantas sold out in ten minutes.
But there has been little fuss over the short-term sacrifices that have allowed businesses and schools to remain open and restored the freedoms of normal daily life.
“We’re living in a free society. We are one of the few countries in the world that has the privilege of going out, of going to a party. I mean, who would not sacrifice that holiday?” said Mr Sinha.
In some ways the local Taiwanese economy has benefited from border closures, which first took hold in March, said John Hardyment, the CEO of Bayshore Pacific Hospitality, which owns 26 casual dining restaurants across Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“People who normally travel out to Japan, Hawaii or Australia or wherever they go on vacation had to stay home and travel around the island, which meant they had money to spend and they went to restaurants,” he said.
Less drastic precautions, including mask wearing, constant hand sanitising and monitoring people’s temperatures in public places have also restored confidence as well as keeping the virus at bay.
“People here are very diligent. That goes for the government, but it goes right down through the culture. Everybody is very aware,” said Mr Hardyment.
Business in China’s economic hub of Shanghai was also “roaring” again, he said, although the reopening only came after the government mandated a total shutdown earlier this year for just over two months.
China’s successful handling of the virus, at times through authoritarian means, has been judged an unsuitable model for more liberal western nations.
But Taiwan and South Korea also cherish their democratic systems after struggling in recent history against military dictatorship to achieve them.