CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan extends Level 2 COVID-19 alert, eases more restrictions

08/21/2021 07:58 PM
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A family dines in a restaurant in Taoyuan, where a divider was set up in the middle of the table. CNA photo Aug. 21, 2021
A family dines in a restaurant in Taoyuan, where a divider was set up in the middle of the table. CNA photo Aug. 21, 2021

Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) Taiwan's Level 2 COVID-19 alert will be extended to Sept. 6, but more government restrictions will be relaxed, starting next Tuesday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday.

At a CECC press briefing, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the current alert, which was due to expire on Aug. 23, will be pushed back for at least another two weeks, because Taiwan still has some domestic COVID-19 cases with unknown sources of infection.

Chen, who heads the CECC, also warned that the Level 2 alert may remain in place until the end of the year, if the global COVID-19 outbreak is not brought under control.

Other factors that will determine whether the alert should be lifted include vaccine coverage in Taiwan and the effectiveness of the current vaccines against new variants of the COVID-19 virus, he said.

Nonetheless, some government restrictions will be eased, starting next Tuesday, to allow more social activity, Chen said.

Starting Aug. 24, as many as 80 people will be permitted to gather indoors and 300 people outdoors, increasing from the current maximum 50 and 100, respectively, he said.

People will still be required, however, to observe social distancing and wear a mask at all times outside their homes, except when they are eating, Chen said.

He said entertainment venues, including singing and dance clubs, nightclubs, hostess bars, karaoke clubs (KTV), and bars will remain closed.

The shutdown order will be lifted, however, for venues like study centers and indoor amusement parks, with effect from next Tuesday, Chen said.

People will also be allowed to swim, snorkel and carry out other other activities at the beach, as long as they wear a mask when they are not in the water, he added.

Currently, only limited activities that allow social distancing, such as scuba diving and surfing, are permitted at the beach, according to the CECC.

Meanwhile, the CECC will partially lift its ban on visits to hospital patients, starting next Tuesday, more than three months after it was imposed, Chen said.

During hospital visiting times, a maximum of two people will be allowed to visit patients on psychiatry, pediatric, respiratory, and palliative care wards and in intensive care, Chen said.

On other wards, two visitors will also be allowed if the patient is disabled, critically ill, or has been hospitalized for at least a week, Chen said.

All visitors, however, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before, he added.

Only recovered COVID-19 patients and people who are fully vaccinated against the virus will be exempt from the test requirement, he said.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Chieh-ling and Teng Pei-ju)

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