Presidential inauguration Wednesday to be unelaborate due to COVID-19

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday for a second term will be a short and simple ceremony due to the prevention efforts against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭) said Tuesday.

The inauguration will consist of two main events, starting at 9 a.m. with the swearing in of President Tsai and Vice President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) at the Presidential Office, Ting said.

After that, Tsai will give her inauguration speech at Taipei Guest House, where the live audience will be limited to 200 people, including the diplomatic corps and members of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Ting said.

At that event, seating and other protocols will be in accordance with the CECC’s social distancing guidelines, according to the Presidential Office.

For example, Tsai and Lai will greet the diplomats and foreign representatives with salutes instead of handshakes, the Presidential Office said.

Ting said there will be no presidential inaugural dinner or public events, but gift packages of local agricultural specialties will be given to the guests at the events.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no overseas dignitaries have been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony, but the leaders of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and other friendly countries will send congratulatory video messages to the president and vice president, Ting said.

None of Taiwan’s three surviving former presidents are expected to attend the ceremony, as two of them have declined and the third was not invited.

In declining the invitation, former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Tsai has not served the Republic of China (Taiwan) well as president.

Former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), 97, will also not attend, due to his advanced age, according to his aide Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍).

Meanwhile, former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was not invited because of his poor health, the Presidential Office said.