Taiwan’s example-setting directive

New Delhi (NVI): Wear facial masks while travelling in public transport or risk a fine of USD 496.

This example-setting directive has been issued in Taiwan by its government as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, who also heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said users of public transport, including the high speed rail and various metro systems, will need to wear the masks or face fines, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

“If we spot someone not wearing a mask, we will ask them to put one on and if they refuse to do so, we will fine them in accordance to the Communicable Disease Control Act,” Chen said.

Currently, passengers not wearing masks on trains belonging to the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) have been directed to purchase masks at nearby convenience stores, said CECC Deputy Commander Chen Tsung-yen.

The reason for enforcing users of public transport to wear masks is because proper social distancing cannot be properly implemented in such situations, Chen Shih-chung said.

The CECC issued its first round of guidelines of social distancing on March 31, recommending that people in Taiwan stay at least one meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors.

The guidelines were expanded the following day, saying that businesses that cannot implement the social distancing rules should close temporarily.

Chen Shih-chung said social distancing is a preventative measure to contain COVID-19, even though Taiwan has not yet reached a lockdown level as has been the case in many other cities around the world.

“It will be too late if we implement social distancing after a lockdown has been announced,” Chen said.

As of yesterday, Taiwan had recorded nine new infections, bringing the total to 348 since the coronavirus emerged in China at the end of last year, according to CECC statistics.

In another directive, the government announced that all members of the public must wear a face mask when visiting government facilities and offices in Taipei from April 9, or be turned away.