TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The head of Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Friday (Sept. 24) the country will relax its Level 2 epidemic control restrictions once the first-dose vaccination rate reaches 60%.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Wednesday (Sept. 22) told the Legislative Yuan the percentage of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine will reach 60% at the beginning of October and 70% by the end of that month. Su said that by October's end, the second-dose vaccination rate should be close to 30%.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that once 60% of the population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the center would begin to lower epidemic control measures. However, he emphasized the center would still need to look at implementing a "new epidemic prevention lifestyle" and that three factors will need to be considered before loosening restrictions.
Also Friday, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said that if the first-dose vaccination rate reaches 70% by the end of October, he will ask the CECC to lower the epidemic alert from Level 2 to Level 1. Chen said that once the coverage rate reaches 60%, some of the industries that have been shuttered can resume operations.
Regarding a statement by the Ministry of Economic Affairs that the eight leisure and entertainment industries will reopen once 60% of the workers in these businesses have received at least one vaccine dose, Chen said the current vaccination rate in these businesses was not easy to estimate. However, if business resumes, he proposes that workers present vaccine certificates.
The Legislative Yuan's Budget Center on Thursday (Sept. 23) estimated the number of confirmed cases will range between 23,000 and 38,000 by June of next year. When asked to comment on these numbers, Chen said this is an estimated value, but that no one can accurately predict the pandemic's course.
He said the estimate is only used as a basis for budgeting and preparations. Chen conceded that in the future, Taiwanese will have to find a way to coexist with the virus and rely on vaccinations, masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing to keep it at bay, while the center works on obtaining new drugs that provide better protection.