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Outdoor exercise is mask-free starting today in Taiwan

People can also remove their mask to take photos beginning today

Outdoor exercise is mask-free starting today in Taiwan

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Effective on Tuesday (Oct. 19) residents of Taiwan will no longer be required to wear face masks while exercising outdoors, and they will be able to go maskless when taking photos.

During a press conference on Sunday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced the Level 2 COVID alert will be extended to Nov. 1. However, he said that some face-covering regulations will be loosened, with masks no longer required for outdoor exercise and when taking photographs outdoors and indoors, starting on Tuesday.

Chen said that there are two conditions under which people will be allowed to take off masks when exercising outdoors or posing for photographs. First, they must not be experiencing any suspected symptoms of COVID.

Second, they must be able to maintain the appropriate social distance. Chen said that people who meet these conditions can take off their masks when exercising, but they should put them back on whenever they stop exercising or take a break.

Outdoor exercise is mask-free starting today in Taiwan
Man places mask on arm before running. (CNA photo)

Chen stressed that even when exercising, people should carry their masks with them, so they can quickly put them back when they cannot maintain a social distance or when they finish. Given that Taiwan's first-dose vaccination coverage rate has surpassed 60%, a reporter asked Chen if the CECC was preparing to lower the alert level to 1.

Chen responded by saying that there are multiple factors to take into consideration and at present only 22% of the population is fully vaccinated, which is a relatively low number compared to other developed countries. He called on the public to be patient as more time is needed to reach an optimal vaccination level.

Taiwan's borders are still tightly sealed, affecting the operation of many international companies. The foreign missions of the European Union, Germany, France, and Singapore have all made appeals to the Taiwan government to loosen its border restrictions.

Outdoor exercise is mask-free starting today in Taiwan
Jogger goes maskless while cyclist keeps mask on. (CNA photo)

Many foreign nations are calling on Taiwan to allow travelers who have been fully vaccinated and can present proof of a negative PCR test to avoid having to undergo 14 days of quarantine. Chen countered that almost all countries have waited until their full vaccination rate had reached a certain level before they started opening their borders.

Chen said that Taiwan will also eventually adopt a policy that allows vaccinated individuals to avoid quarantine. However, Chen pointed out that the low second-dose rate in Taiwan means that residents currently have a weaker level of immunity.

Therefore, Chen said that the CECC will wait until the vaccination rate has risen to a "certain level" to relax the quarantine requirements. Meanwhile, Chen said that "at this stage, conditions are not suitable to rashly open up the borders."