TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to the detection of a record-setting 180 coronavirus cases on Saturday (May 15), the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that epidemic restrictions for Taipei and New Taipei will be raised to Level 3. Even so, Taipei's mayor said he did not believe a lockdown of any districts is necessary as yet.
The vast majority of the new cases reported on Saturday are in northern Taiwan, with 89 in Taipei and 75 in New Taipei, while six were reported in Changhua, four in Yilan and Taoyuan, and one in Taichung and Keelung. To stem the tide of new cases, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced Taipei and New Taipei would raise their epidemic warning to Level 3 and the new accompanying regulations would stay in effect until May 28.
Beyond Greater Taipei, leisure and entertainment venues across the country will be shut down and religious gatherings and pilgrimages will be prohibited. Many counties and cities have raised their epidemic warning to Level 2 and unnecessary movement between Level 2 and Level 3 areas is strongly discouraged.
The following are the nine major epidemic prevention guidelines that must be followed in areas under a Level 3 alert:
- Wear a mask at all times when going out.
- Avoid unnecessary movement, activities, or gatherings.
- Indoor gatherings are limited to five people, while outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10.
- Self-health monitoring (seek medical treatment if symptoms appear).
- Businesses and public institutions must implement crowd control, masking, and social distancing.
- Workplaces must abide by epidemic prevention requirements, implement personal and workplace hygiene management, and initiate corporate continuous operation response measures, such as remote work and flexible working hours.
- Food and beverage establishments should observe epidemic prevention measures such as a real-name registration system, social distancing, and partitions. If these cannot be followed, take-out should be implemented instead.
- Marriages and funerals must adopt a real-name registration system, social distancing, and disinfection.
- Public areas and mass transit operations must strengthen disinfection measures.
Chen explained the restriction of indoor gatherings to five people and outdoor events to 10 refers to social activities. He emphasized that offices and schools are to remain open in the two metropolises.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was asked if he would consider a lockdown if the outbreak continues in Wanhua District. He responded by saying that he "still believes in the quality of Taiwanese citizens."
Ko asked Taipei residents to stay at home as much as possible and always wear masks when going out. He exhorted people to not eat or drink when they go out because it will require removing one's mask and this will easily spread respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
The mayor said that as long as everyone stays at home and wears masks when going out, the number of cases can be controlled within two weeks. He said that outbreaks have spread out of control in other countries because their citizens refused to wear masks.
Ko then reiterated his conviction that, "Taiwanese citizens are of high quality and should be able to overcome this crisis."