Law to cope with coronavirus impact clears legislative floor

02/25/2020 04:25 PM

Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed a bill Tuesday to allow the government to allocate a maximum NT$60 billion (US$1.96 billion) special budget to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, which includes compensating hard-hit local businesses.

The 18-article bill, which cleared its third reading at the Legislative Yuan, allows the government to use the money until June 2021 to enact relief measures for industries impacted by the outbreak and provide help for employees within those industries.

Under the act, medical workers and related personnel involved with disease prevention efforts will receive subsidies. They will also be given extra compensation should they fall ill or die as a result of their work, according to the act.

For individuals who have to undergo quarantine, the bill stipulates that employers cannot list them as absent from work, or discriminate against them in any manner.

They will be entitled to apply for compensation within a two-year window, if they are not paid a salary during their period of quarantine or have not being given other forms of compensation.

The provisions also apply to employees who have to take time off work to care for family members in quarantine who are unable to take care of themselves.

However, parents who have to take time off to look after children due to the delay in the reopening of schools will not be entitled to this form of compensation.

Meanwhile, private or public entities that pay employees' salaries when they take leave for quarantine, or when they take leave for childcare during the extended winter break, will receive tax breaks, it noted.

More details on how exactly to carry out these relief measures will be drafted by related government units before they present these proposals to the Cabinet for approval.

The bill also raises significantly the penalty for violating quarantine terms.

Under the act, individuals who violate their 14-day home quarantine terms will be fined NT$100,000 to NT$1 million, up from the NT$10,000 to NT$150,000 stipulated under the Communicable Disease Control Act.

Those who violate the stricter home isolation terms will be fined NT$200,000 to NT$1 million.

People who drive up the prices of supplies related to disease prevention or hoard such supplies will face prison terms of up to five years or fines of up to NT$5 million, while those who disseminate false information regarding the virus will face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to NT$3 million.

(By Wang Yang-yu and Joseph Yeh)


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