Taipei, March 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday recommended the cancellation of mass gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said the recommendation was made because venues where a large number of people gather together can increase the risk of spreading the virus.
Organizers of such events, he said, should assess the risks of holding them and decide whether to cancel them based on their ability to identify those who will attend the events beforehand, the quality of the venue's ventilation, and the length of such gatherings.
Other factors that need to be taken into consideration are the distance between participants, whether participants can walk around the venue or are restricted to a designated seat, and if they can keep their hands clean and wear a face mask, Chen said.
The CECC also advised event organizers to establish contingency measures should they identify "suspected COVID-19 cases" during gatherings, including setting up a temporary shelter for them and designating the hospital they should be sent to, Chen said.
An event organizer should cancel the planned gathering should a risk assessment of these factors finds the gathering at high risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to Chen.
He stressed, however, that the guidelines are only recommendations and that the CECC will not punish those who insist on holding indoor or outdoor gatherings.
The recommendations are being made, Chen said, to familiarize Taiwanese residents with a stay-at-home lifestyle so they are used to it if the government needs to put in place stricter rules in the future to ban all large-scale gatherings to combat the COVID-19.
According to Deputy Interior Minister Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), a total of 101 night clubs, hostess bars, karaoke bars (KTVs) around Taiwan have decided to temporarily close down as of Tuesday night to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the 101, 91 of them made the decision on their own while 10 of them were asked to do so by the Taichung City government, Chen Tsung-yen said.