Local governments increase policing, fines for home quarantine

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taipei and New Taipei cities said Wednesday that they are stepping up enforcement of home quarantine regulations, amid a number of recent cases in which quarantined individuals have been caught defying government orders to stay at home.

In a press release, the Taipei City Police Department said it will increase its use of random checkpoints and will allow officers to check people’s quarantine status via online databases, in response to a recent influx of students and travelers from hotspots of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In New Taipei, meanwhile, Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that after initially suffering delays of up to three days, quarantine reporting from central to local governments has improved, allowing for stricter enforcement.

Ke Ching-chung (柯慶忠), director-general of the city’s department of civil affairs, explained that under the previous system, airport officials sent quarantine lists to the National Immigration Agency, which then transferred them to local authorities.

The government has now centralized the system, allowing neighborhood chiefs and other local officials to access quarantine lists without such long delays, Ke said.

According to city government statistics, there are currently 12,000 New Taipei residents under home quarantine, with the highest numbers in the Banqiao, Xindian and Zhonghe districts.

In addition to strengthening policing, several local governments on Wednesday announced steep fines for people caught in violation of their home quarantine orders.

In Taipei, Deputy Mayor Vivan Huang (黃珊珊) said the city will impose a NT$1 million (US$33,011) fine on resident Chen Tse (陳冊), who went missing after returning from Beijing on March 21.

After failing to locate Chen at his quarantine location on Sunday and Monday, the authorities made his identity public on Tuesday, and found him that evening at an Internet café in the city’s Zhongzheng District, Huang said.

Meanwhile, Changhua County police said Wednesday that they will consider fines of up to NT$1 million against a Yuanlin City couple who ignored their quarantine restrictions after returning from a trip to Europe.

In that case, the authorities were alerted by cellphone monitoring devices that the two had left their home, and were able to locate them — he running work errands, and she at a pharmacy — using public surveillance cameras.

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