CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan extends national Level 3 COVID-19 alert to June 28 (update)
Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Taiwan's nationwide Level 3 COVID-19 alert will be extended to June 28, as the recent domestic outbreak has shown no signs of easing, the Cabinet announced Monday.
Under the Level 3 alert, all schools in the country will remain closed until the current semester ends in early July.
People will still be required to wear masks at all times when they leave their homes, and a ban will be retained on indoor gatherings of more than four people and outdoor gatherings of more than nine people.
Government officials have also repeatedly urged people not to leave their homes to go out unless necessary, and measures were recently imposed to limit when people can shop at traditional markets or go to night markets.
The Level 3 alert, the second highest in Taiwan's four-tier COVID-19 alert scale, was first issued in Taipei and New Taipei on May 15.
It was implemented nationwide on May 19 and was originally scheduled to end on May 28.
The government has now decided to retain the national Level 3 alert for at least another two weeks beyond June 14, as the average number of new domestic COVID-19 cases reported since May 15 remains at around 430 per day and total deaths from the disease have spiked from 12 to 260 in less than a month.
Speaking at a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) news briefing, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the decision was made because "this is a critical moment for Taiwan in terms of combating COVID-19."
"We need close cooperation between the government and citizens to contain the spread of the coronavirus," Chen said.
Chen repeated some of the regulations and rules under the ongoing Level 3 alert, including a ban on all in-person dining and drinking nationwide until June 28. Restaurants are only allowed to serve customers through takeout or delivery services.
Chen also said that people holding weddings and funerals are not allowed to invite guests or serve meals, and all religious gatherings are banned and places of worship must close under the current protocols.
Places of business and public venues other than law enforcement offices, health care facilities, government offices, or businesses considered to be essential, are advised to close. For those that remain open, however, strict mask wearing and social distancing are required.
Workplaces should enforce CECC guidelines, and when possible people should work remotely or in staggered shifts, he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said at the press briefing that convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets should control the flow of people who enter to prevent overcrowding.
All such places are required to have customers sign in either electronically or by writing down their names and phone numbers, and increase the frequency with which they disinfect their stores.
Customers are required to wear face masks at all time, maintain social distancing, and have their temperature checked before entering the store, Chen Chern-chyi said.
People can be fined up to NT$15,000 (US$541) for not wearing masks in public without being given a verbal warning beforehand, according to the CECC.
Taiwan on Monday reported 214 cases of COVID-19, including 211 domestic infections and three imported ones, as well as 26 deaths from the disease.
The new cases bring the total number in Taiwan to 11,491, of which over 10,000 are domestic infections recorded since May 15, the first day Taiwan reported over 100 domestic infections since the outbreak began in early 2020.
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