Taiwan's social distancing seating rules to be relaxed on June 7

Social distancing guidelines for theaters, stadiums, trains, restaurants to be eased


(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Taiwan goes 45 days without a new local infection of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the country announced its rules on social distancing for seating in most public spaces will be relaxed on June 7.

During a radio interview with Hit Fm host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on Wednesday (May 27), Minister of Health and Welfare and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that social distancing rules would be eased June 7. He said that because June 7 will mark eight weeks without a local case of the virus, this represents four incubation periods without an infection, a timeframe the CECC deems sufficiently safe to relax the regulations.

Chen said that the scientific standard for loosening regulations on social distancing is usually two incubation periods. However, because this is such a new illness and due to concerns over asymptomatic cases, the CECC decided to err on the side of caution.

Starting on June 7, art, cultural, catering, and leisure activities will no longer have to adhere to restrictions on the number of persons participating. Also on that day, food can once again be served and non-assigned seats be sold on Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR) trains, but passengers on Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains will still be required to wear face masks.

As for restaurants, if the distance between tables is large enough, partitions will no longer be required. The exception to this would be arrangments in which customers sit right next to each other, said Chen.

For concerts, movies, and baseball games, venues will no longer be required to leave one seat empty between each person. People attending these events will also be allowed to eat and drink while seated but are advised to wear masks when not eating and while sitting close to others.

Since March 30, National Taiwan University had been implementing access controls limiting the campus to only seven entrances. Teachers, staff, and students had been required to present identification before they can enter.

Once restrictions are eased in June, the university plans on removing its limits on entrances. In addition, the 100-person limit for classes, meetings, and activities will also be lifted.

As for Taipei, the city government said its facilities will be open beginning on June 1. At that time, the limit on people participating in outdoor events will be raised from 500 to 1,000, while the quota for indoor activities will be raised from 100 to 250 people, but masks will still be encouraged when it is impossible to maintain social distancing.

New Taipei Mayor Hou You-ih (侯友宜), told the media Wednesday that starting June 7, epidemic prevention measures in the city will gradually be lifted, reported CNA. He said that city officials will also discuss whether to open campuses, hotels, and dance halls, but masks will still be required on public transport as well as in crowded places and confined spaces where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.