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Taiwan mulls lowering COVID alert to Level 1 on Oct. 1

Lo says chance of lowering epidemic restrictions to Level 1 next month increasing

People seated on amusement park ride on Sept. 21. 

People seated on amusement park ride on Sept. 21.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) official on Thursday (Sept. 23) said it is increasingly probable that the country will lower its Level 2 epidemic control restrictions to Level 1 on Oct. 1.

When asked to respond to reports that the CECC is mulling lowering epidemic prevention measures to Level 1 by Oct. 1, Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that the longer the country goes without infections from unknown sources, the higher the probability the alert level will be lowered and regulations adjusted.

Lo said that given that newly revised Level 2 measures had just gone into place Tuesday (Sept. 21), the center will monitor subsequent developments in the outbreak and the public's implementation of the new guidelines before assessing the possibility of an alert level downgrade and corresponding adjustments to rules.

At Level 2, there is still a limit on the number of people allowed to gather indoors and outdoors, leaving more room for adjustment, said Lo. He pointed out that there are currently many types of businesses still shuttered and that some adjustments to the rules restricting these establishments are anticipated.

The maximum allowable capacity for mass transit vehicles will also be adjusted in the future, said Lo. However, he stressed that loosening regulations will be based on the outbreak situation.

Lo then pointed out the importance of keeping imported cases at bay:

"Although you see that there are very few confirmed cases in our country, there are actually a lot of cases that have been imported from abroad. Therefore, there is still pressure from overseas. We must keep our defenses up at all times and not let our guard down to prevent imported cases from causing local cluster infections."

The current Level 2 guidelines were extended Tuesday and are set to expire on Oct. 4. The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on its Facebook page on Sept. 21 the details of its enhanced Level 2 alert measures.

Among the new measures is a relaxation of gatherings at conventions, trade fairs, and banquets of up to 80 people indoors and 300 outdoors, but with the requirement that people at these events maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters indoors. Organizers must submit an application to local governments three weeks before an event, and at least 60% of the people working at such events must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Banquet participants may not toast multiple tables with alcohol or tea. In addition, adult leisure and entertainment venues such as Karaoke parlors, dance halls, nightclubs, hostess bars, bars, MTV clubs, and KTV bars are to remain closed.

Updated : 2021-10-17 11:51 GMT+08:00