CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan eases COVID-19 restrictions at movie theaters, sports venues

09/27/2021 07:44 PM
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An employee at a movie theater in Taipei disinfects seats between showings. CNA file photo
An employee at a movie theater in Taipei disinfects seats between showings. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Taiwan will ease some COVID-19 restrictions at movie theaters, sports venues, and train stations this week, and allow the reopening of more entertainment venues on Oct. 5 if the COVID-19 situation remains stable, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.

Taiwan began imposing strict COVID-19-related rules in May, when the country saw an unprecedented surge in domestically transmitted cases of the disease. These included imposing a cap on the number of people allowed at gatherings and closing down various public venues.

As COVID-19 case numbers have continued to fall in the past few months, these rules have been gradually relaxed.

In this latest round of eased restrictions, which start this week, people will be allowed to eat inside train stations and high-speed railway stations, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at Monday's CECC press briefing.

Eating on trains will still be banned, said Chen, who heads the CECC.

For movie theaters, performances, exhibitions and sporting events, the number of participants will no longer be capped at 80 and 300 people for indoor and outdoor activities, respectively, Chen said.

For activities in this category that are held indoors, checkerboard seating will no longer be required and seats can be filled to the maximum capacity of the venue, Chen said.

For outdoor activities, venues can be seated up to 50 percent capacity, Chen said.

Tickets can also be sold on the spot, provided that social distancing can be maintained when people are lining up, Chen said.

Event participants will still be required to wear masks and to leave their names and phone numbers before entering the venues for contact-tracing purposes, Chen said, and a ban on eating and drinking will be retained.

The relaxed rules will kick in this week, though the specific dates depend on the government agencies in charge of each venue, Chen said.

The CECC also plans to allow several types of entertainment venues, namely internet cafes, MTV centers, karaoke outlets, board game cafes, and mahjong clubs, to reopen on Oct. 5, provided that the COVID-19 situation remains stable, Chen said.

At least 60 percent of employees at these venues need to have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose 14 days prior to the venues being reopened, he added.

Different disease prevention measures will need to be in place at different types of venues.

At internet cafes, for instance, surveillance cameras must be installed so that footage can be retrieved by health authorities if necessary, and at karaoke outlets, a 30-minute disinfection period will be required between sets of customers using the same booth, Chen said.

Entertainment venues including clubs and bars are still barred from reopening, Chen said.

When asked if the CECC is considering lifting the outdoor mask mandate, Chen said that they had no immediate plans to do so.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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