Taiwan quarantine escapees could be fined up to NT$1 million

The military's chemical officers disinfect quarantine rooms in Taiwan on Feb. 19, 2020. (CNA)
The military's chemical officers disinfect quarantine rooms in Taiwan on Feb. 19, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — The Cabinet is seeking parliament approval to penalize people in Taiwan who violate quarantine measures by up to NT$1 million (US$33,072) as the country strives to keep the novel coronavirus epidemic under control.

This measure is part of the “Special Regulations on Prevention and Relief of Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia Bill” (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例草案) that the Cabinet hopes to implement as soon as possible to counter the outbreak.

Once approved, violations against the 14-days mandated quarantine will be punishable by NT$200,000 (US$6,613) to NT$1 million (US$33,072), Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a press conference on Thursday.

Those who break home-isolation guidelines, which is another type of home quarantine but with looser rules, could be fined between NT$100,000 (US$3,307) to NT$1 million (US$33,072), Lo added.

Cabinet officials attend a press conference on Feb. 20, 2020. (CNA)
Cabinet officials attend a press conference on Feb. 20, 2020. (CNA)

In Taiwan, there are three types of epidemic response measures that restrict physical movements as introduced by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) based on the “Communicable Disease Control Act” (傳染病防治法): Home quarantine, home isolation, and self-health management. 

The former two have more stringent requirements and are legally binding. They ban leaving the house altogether and involve regular check-ups from local authorities.

People issued a self-health management notice are not banned from leaving the house, but recommended wearing masks when doing so.

Previously, home quarantine and home isolation are regulated by the “Communicable Disease Control Act.” Violations are punishable by fines between NT$60,000 (US$1,983) and NT$300,000 (US$9,919) and between NT$10,000 (US$330) and NT$150,000 (US$4,958) respectively.

Once the parliament gives the go-ahead, which is highly anticipated to happen since the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds the legislative majority, the maximum penalty for violating both mandated quarantine and home isolation would be NT$1 million (US$33,072).

Since quarantine measures were put in place, authorities have been tracking down escapees up and down the island.

Three travelers from Hong Kong were arrested and each fined NT$70,000 (USD$2,331) earlier this week after escaping from their designated quarantine sites and reporting false information on health declaration cards upon arrival in Taiwan.

Reports of people going awol circulating on social media have incited fear and anger, and calls for heavier punishment.

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