Government plans crowd control measures ahead of Labor Day weekend

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung shows the 1968 app on his phone.

TAIPEI (CNA) — The government will be better prepared to cope with crowd control measures and the use of technology to avoid mass gatherings at tourist attractions during the upcoming Labor Day long weekend, officials said Sunday.

Ahead of a meeting with businesses in the tourism sector in Tainan, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told reporters that the ministry is working on an update to its 1968 website traffic information service to better inform the public about the level of crowds at 234 tourist attractions.

Lin said it is acceptable for people to visit tourist spots during the break, as long as they follow disease prevention measures regarding the ongoing COVID-19 conoravirus pandemic.

On April 4, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) issued national-level alerts for major tourist spots in Taiwan amid the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day festival, after many were seen to be not observing proper coronavirus prevention guidelines.

According to Lin, the updated service will use a traffic light system to show people where to avoid crowds during the upcoming break — with red meaning that control measures are in place, yellow meaning that crowds are increasing and green indicating that there are fewer visitors.

Currently, the website’s (https://1968.freeway.gov.tw) partly English version shows similar information as “Real-time Traffic Info,” although the app version is only in Chinese.

Lin said the update is expected to go online on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, local governments in New Taipei and Kaohsiung have both announced crowd control plans for the upcoming break.

New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said the city will monitor around 70 tourist spots to manage the flow of visitors and traffic, and will send text messages to warn people about crowded locations.

Kaohsiung City Tourism Bureau Director Chiu Chun-lung (邱俊龍) told CNA that the staff at city-run facilities, such as the Shoushan Zoo, will ensure that visitors follow the CECC’s social distancing guidelines.

According to the guidelines, the public is advised to keep a distance of 1.5 meters indoors and one meter outdoors, and to wear a face mask in crowded locations.

As of Sunday, Taiwan had reported 429 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including six deaths, while 281 patients had recovered and been released from quarantine.