TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (Feb. 22) announced that all of its epidemic prevention regulations would remain in place in March, with the exception of eating on the high-speed rail.
Amid speculation that the CECC would be easing its fall and winter epidemic prevention scheme, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Monday announced that the strict measures put in place last December and scheduled to end on Feb. 28 will continue in March.
Chen said that the only new exception is that passengers will be allowed to eat and drink on Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR) trains. When asked by reporters if eating would be allowed on Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) trains as well, Chen said that the CECC will discuss the matter with the TRA and provide an update later this week.
The food and drink ban on Taiwan's trains first went into effect on Feb. 1 amid a cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital. The fall and winter epidemic prevention measures focus on three major areas: border quarantine measures, community epidemic prevention, and medical response.
Border quarantine measures
Regarding the border quarantine measures, Chen said that all inbound and transit passengers must submit a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test report within three days of their flight to Taiwan.
He emphasized that overseas arrivals are still required to undergo a two-week isolation period at government quarantine centers or in a private residence under the principle of one person per accommodation.
Community epidemic prevention
As for masks, Chen said that masks will continue to be mandatory in eight categories of places. Those who fail to wear masks in these contexts and do not heed requests to do so face a fine of between NT$3,000 (US$107) and NT$15,000 for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法).
The following are the eight types of venues where masks will continue to be required starting March 1:
1. Healthcare facilities
Hospitals, clinics, and other facilities where large numbers of patients are kept in tight quarters indoors
2. Public transportation
THSR, TRA, mass rapid transit (MRT), and other public transportation systems
3. Places of consumption
Malls, shopping centers, supermarkets, and other areas where consumers congregate, with the exception of restaurants
4. Places of learning
Libraries, community colleges, training programs, and study centers, with the exception of K-12 schools and cram schools
5. Sports and exhibition venues
Cinemas, stadiums, gymnasiums, activity centers, performance venues, art galleries, museums, indoor skating rinks, indoor swimming pools, amusement parks, and playgrounds
6. Entertainment venues
Cruise ships, bars, KTV bars, hostess bars, dance halls, MTV clubs, night clubs, massage parlors, fitness centers, fitness and leisure centers (including massage services and saunas), pool halls, bowling allies, and video game arcades
7. Houses of worship
Temples, churches, and funeral homes
8. Offices and business venues
Banks, insurance companies, credit cooperatives, and post offices
In terms of medical response, Chen pledged that hospitals will continue to strengthen their notification and testing measures and continue to monitor "the strengthening of the screening of outpatients and emergency room patients for pneumonia in the community," "strengthen the screening of inpatients," and "strengthen the health monitoring of healthcare personnel."