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Will Taiwan's mask mandate end by summer? Some rules may be relaxed: Chen

Chen says mask rules in specific areas can be loosened before summer vacation

Will Taiwan's mask mandate end by summer? Some rules may be relaxed: Chen

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — When asked by the media whether Taiwan will end its mask mandate before the summer vacation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that mask rules in specific areas could be loosened first.

During a press conference on Thursday (March 17), Chen observed that it has been 10 days since Taiwan shortened its quarantine to 10 days and opened its borders to business travelers. Since March 7, the number of business travelers entering Taiwan has risen from 770 to 1,882 per week. He also indicated that due to the slow-down with the domestic COVID outbreak and zero local cases announced that day, the mask regulations in certain areas will be relaxed in the near future.

When asked by the media if mask rules would be loosened, Chen responded by saying that it is possible to consider loosening regulations in specific areas first, but a complete lifting of all mask regulations will "probably take some time" and he continued to call on the public to stay in the habit of wearing masks for as long as possible.

Chen emphasized that March 17 is a key turning point for the lifting of COVID restrictions and the center is monitoring key indicators before making further adjustments. Examples of important criteria the center is monitoring include, the situation with global pandemic and domestic outbreak, the rate of vaccine coverage in Taiwan, and the level of preparedness among the people.

He pointed out that the center has adjusted the timing for required rapid screening tests during self-health management to the second and fourth day of the seven-day period. Previously, people undergoing self-health management were required to take rapid antigen tests on the first and sixth days.

Chen said that the center will closely observe the positivity rate and subsequent diagnosis of people undergoing self-health monitoring to determine whether it will affect the community.

He noted that there had been zero COVID cases reported that day and said that if the number of local cases remains at zero on a consistent basis and the epidemic prevention measures remain the same, there is no need for real-name registration. However, now that the border restrictions are being loosened, relevant tools need to be prepared, such as strengthening reporting in a more informative way, in order to be more prepared."