TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the Lunar New Year holiday comes to a close and concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant persist, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (Feb. 7) announced its rules for the extended Level 2 epidemic alert.
After 79 COVID cases were announced over the weekend, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) stated on Monday that as there continue to be new cases from unknown sources, the Level 2 COVID alert will be extended from Feb. 8-28. During this time, the masking measures issued during the previous period will remain in place, as well as the ban on eating on public transportation, strict enforcement of real-name registration at restaurants, and a requirement that religious gatherings of over 500 people must obtain government approval.
As was the case during the previous alert, masks must be worn while engaging in the following activities:
- Taking photos
- Recording video
- Giving a speech
- Taking part in the filming of activities that involve discussions or interviews
Masks are not required in the following situations but should be kept on hand and still be worn if experiencing symptoms or when unable to maintain a social distance from strangers:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishery, and animal husbandry work in open areas, such as fields, fish farms, and forests
- Activities in the mountains, forests (including forest recreation areas), and at the seaside
- Hot/cold springs, saunas, spas, steam rooms, water activity venues, and other situations in which a mask could get wet
- When it is necessary to eat or drink while out
- Places or activities designated by the CECC or the competent authority, if relevant anti-epidemic measures are met
Eating and drinking are prohibited on the following forms of public transportation:
- Taiwan High-Speed Rail trains
- Taiwan Railways Administration trains
- Intercity buses
- Domestic flights
Those caught violating the ban on eating and drinking on public transportation could face a fine of between NT$3,000 (US$107) and NT$15,000.
Houses of worship and religious gatherings are also prohibited from allowing participants to eat or drink. Worshipers must wear a mask at all times, have their temperature and contact information taken at entrances, and observe social distancing regulations both indoors and outdoors.
Staff of religious venues are only allowed to work if they have received two vaccine doses. If a religious group wishes to hold an event with 500 or more participants, it must present an epidemic prevention plan to the local government for approval.
Restaurants are required to more strictly enforce the use of a real-name registration system. Taiwanese and foreign residents who fail to fill out the real-name registration system can face fines of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000.
Eateries are also expected to measure body temperatures, provide hand-washing equipment, and keep adequate disinfection supplies. Toasting at individual tables is prohibited.
Businesses and public venues must also continue to implement real-name registration, measure temperatures, and strengthen cleaning as well as monitor the health of employees and respond immediately to incidents involving confirmed cases.
Crowd control must be strengthened in stores, supermarkets, and markets, with a social distance of 1.5 meters indoors and 1 m outdoors.