Taiwan eases restrictions on mass transit, crowds, and face masks

Passengers on MRT, trains, buses, domestic flights can remove masks if social distancing observed

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Migrant workers seen sitting on floor of Taiwan Main Station on Sunday, June 7. 

Migrant workers seen sitting on floor of Taiwan Main Station on Sunday, June 7.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Sunday (June 7) announced that it was easing some of its restrictions on mass transit, the size of gatherings, masks, and social distancing that day, including in the main hall of Taipei Main Station.

During his daily press conference on Sunday afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that as the country had successfully surpassed 56 days, the equivalent to four incubation periods for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the CECC was easing a number of its epidemic preventions measures that day as scheduled. As of Sunday, restrictions have been significantly eased on trains, buses, domestic flights, supermarkets, performance venues, night markets, and scenic areas.

Starting that day, passengers taking Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains, or buses with still be required to wear masks and have their temperatures monitored when entering the turnstile. However, once they are inside the trains or buses, they can remove their mask if they can maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters; if not, they are advised to keep wearing a mask.

Likewise, passengers taking domestic flights are still required to have their temperatures checked and wear masks when entering the gate, but once on board, they can remove them if social distancing can be maintained. Despite the easing of restrictions, 90 percent of passengers on mass transit systems were observed still wearing masks inside the vehicles, reported China Times.

Chen said he hopes that 90 percent of Taiwan's citizens continue to maintain a safe social distance and wear masks when they cannot. He said that this will be key to preventing a major outbreak if new local infections arise.

The CECC also lifted its limits on large gatherings exceeding 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors for night markets, art and cultural events, and scenic spots. The command center added that national performance venues can again set tickets to full capacity.

However, Chen said those who attend such events will still need to provide their names and contact information, observe good hygiene, and wear masks if they are unable to maintain the required social distance or are feeling unwell. One venue that was noticeably open to large crowds on Sunday was the main lobby of Taiwan Main Station, where many migrant workers could be seen sitting on the black-and-white checkered floor for the first time in months.

Out of 443 total confirmed cases, 352 were imported, 55 were local, and 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet."

Up until now, seven individuals have succumbed to the disease, while 430 have been released from hospital isolation. This leaves only six people still undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in Taiwan.