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Beachgoers busted for shirking epidemic prevention rules at Taiwan's Xiaoliuqiu

Woman caught snorkeling at Xiaoliuqiu faces fine of up to NT$15,000

Swimmers questioned by CGA officers. (Photo from reader)

Swimmers questioned by CGA officers. (Photo from reader)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of beachgoers was confronted by the authorities for violating Level 3 restrictions on a beach in southern Taiwan, with one woman handed a citation for not wearing a mask.

Since Level 3 measures went into effect nationwide on May 19, all beaches across the country have been closed to the public, and swimming has been banned. Xiaoliuqiu, a coral island and popular tourist spot in Pingtung County, has been closed to visitors since the restrictions began.

Although the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is considering relaxing the restrictions when they are set to end on July 12, swimming remains strictly forbidden, and Xiaoliuqiu is not currently open to tourists. However, in recent weeks, local residents have begun to complain about outside visitors coming to the island and flouting epidemic prevention regulations by sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling on the island's beaches.

Earlier this week, a party of eight women and one man in swimsuits was allegedly spotted snorkeling and engaging in other water activities near the Duziping natural and cultural ecology scenic area. A resident surnamed Chen (陳) was cited by the Liberty Times as saying that the group is suspected to have entered Duziping from the Samaji campground and had been spotted there several times.

Beachgoers busted for shirking epidemic prevention rules at Taiwan's Xiaoliuqiu
One woman cited by police for not wearing mask. (Photo from reader)

According to local residents, no one in the group wore a mask as they engaged in water activities together. Concerned that this represented a breach of epidemic prevention regulations and fearing a spread of COVID-19 to the island, residents alerted the authorities.

When police and Coast Guard Administration (CGA) officers arrived at the scene, they spotted one of the women wading ashore after having gone snorkeling without a mask. Police immediately issued her a citation and notified the health department, which will determine the fine to be issued.

According to the Communicable Disease Control Act, those found to be not wearing a face mask in public will face a fine of between NT$3,000 (US$100) and NT$15,000.

When officers encountered the other seven members of the group, all were found to be wearing masks and were not issued tickets. Officers warned them to cooperate with the regulations and not to return to the beach until they have been lifted. In response to the incident, the Pingtung County government pledged that police will step up patrols on the island to prevent further breaches of epidemic prevention rules.

Beachgoers busted for shirking epidemic prevention rules at Taiwan's Xiaoliuqiu
Swimmers being questioned by police, CGA officers. (Photo from reader)

Updated : 2022-01-22 02:40 GMT+08:00