Businesses unable to maintain social distancing should close: CECC

TAIPEI (CNA) — Business places at which effective social distancing cannot be maintained should close the premises temporarily to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) advised Wednesday.

The advice was issued one day after Taiwan introduced its first round of social distancing guidelines, saying that people should stay at least one meter apart outdoors and keep a minimum space of 1.5 meters from each other indoors.

In cases where they are unable to do so, they should wear a mask, especially in crowded and enclosed spaces such as on the mass rapid transit (MRT) trains, particularly during rush hour, said CECC head and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).

Taipei MRT

During this first phase of social distancing, people are also advised to avoid attending events such as exhibitions, sports meets and concerts, where it is difficult to avoid close contact, according to the CECC.

At businesses where the recommended indoor space of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained, the premises should be closed, the CECC said.

The CECC’s guidelines are not enforceable in the first phase and carry no penalty at the moment.

In the second phase, however, penalties will be introduced, the CECC said but did not give specific details.

When the second phase takes effect, the social distancing guidelines will be expanded, with a ban imposed on all non-essential activities, the CECC said.

Furthermore, the guidelines on the spaces between people indoors and outdoors will apply in all cases, whether or not people are wearing masks, the CECC said.

The timeline for the implementation of the second phase of social distancing regulations will depend on the pandemic situation, the CECC said.

Meanwhile, the CECC on Wednesday tightened its regulations pertaining to home quarantine, saying individuals who are found to have left their homes once will be sent to designated quarantine centers.

Previously, isolation in a quarantine center was invoked only in cases where the individual was caught breaking home quarantine at least twice.

According to the CECC, 318 people have been fined by local governments for violating home quarantine and home isolation-related restrictions, with the fines totaling NT$27.14 million.