TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As COVID-19 cases continue to emerge in multiple counties and cities across the country, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (May 19) declared that Level 3 restrictions will go into effect on Thursday (May 20).
During a press conference on Wednesday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that as the number of confirmed cases in counties and cities continue to increase, and given the need for epidemic prevention standards to be consistent across the country, Level 3 epidemic prevention rules will be imposed nationwide from May 20-28. Chen said that starting on Thursday, a national epidemic prevention meeting will be held to coordinate nationwide efforts to combat the outbreak, with mayors and deputy mayors from across the country invited to attend.
The CECC head stressed that the three major tasks of the meetings will be to integrate epidemic prevention resources, review progress in the implementation of policies, and refute false information. He said that after each daily CECC press conference, an additional media briefing will be led by command center deputy chief Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) to dispel any fake news and to respond to reporters' questions.
Chen said that the regulations of the nationwide Level 3 alert will be the same as those implemented in Taipei and New Taipei. This marks the first time since the start of the pandemic that a Level 3 warning has been issued across the country.
According to the CECC's four-tier system, Level 3 is implemented in the event of more than three community cluster infections within a single week in the country or more than 10 local cases of unknown origin.
A Level 3 alert means that all people must wear masks at all times when venturing out, and indoor gatherings are limited to five people, while outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10. A wide spectrum of business and public venues are to be closed, with the exception of essential services, police departments, hospitals, and government buildings.
In those businesses and public institutions that remain open, crowd control, masks, and social distancing are required. 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.
Individuals who do not wear a mask when going out will face fines of between NT$3,000 (US$100) and NT$15,000 for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act. Persons who violate the ban on large gatherings and religious activities, or enter venues that are supposed to be closed, will face fines of between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.
The following are measures that are implemented under a Level 3 alert:
- Wearing of masks at all times outdoors
- Indoor gatherings limited to five people
- All places of business and public venues are shuttered, with the exception of essential services, police departments, hospitals, and government buildings
- Masks and social distancing required at all businesses or venues that remain open
- In areas where community transmission has taken place, residents are restricted to a set perimeter and must submit to COVID-19 testing
Regarding the implementation of a Level 4 alert, Chen said that conditions do not yet necessitate a heightened alert level. On Saturday (May 15), Chen said a full Level 4 will not be held unless there are at least 100 new cases for 14 straight days. Currently, Taiwan has reported over 100 new cases for only five consecutive days.