Taiwan’s baseball league to ease restrictions from June 7

Taiwan's professional baseball league said Friday that from June 7 it will relax restrictions on seating and the wearing of face masks. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s professional baseball league said Friday that from June 7 it will relax restrictions on seating and the wearing of face masks, while also resuming food and beverage sales, in line with Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) guidance allowing greater flexibility for social events.

Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) made the announcement following a meeting with league executives.

First, Wu said, the league will relax the rules on seating arrangements to allow fans to sit in even-numbered seats in one row, and odd-numbered seats in the rows in front or behind.

Fans are currently required to keep two to three seats between them on either side, while the rows in front and behind must remain completely empty.

Second, fans will no longer be required to wear face masks at all times, Wu said, adding that people should still wear masks when away from their seats, in parts of a ballpark where social distancing is not so easily maintained.

Meanwhile, the current name-based registration system used at the games, in which fans are required to fill out a health declaration form, will be relaxed into one based simply on contact information, Wu said.

Concession stands selling food and drinks will also be able to reopen, Wu went on.

He said the league will report the new policies to the Ministry of Education’s Sports Administration, as the CECC has urged industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to begin reporting back to their original regulatory agencies.

According to Wu, health authorities gave the league two options on how to relax the restrictions it currently has in place.

One was to remove all limits on attendance, but require fans to wear masks at all times and prohibit food and drinks in the stadium. For the comfort of the fans, the league instead chose to maintain social distancing while relaxing the other requirements, Wu said.

“In our experience, it’s hot and unpleasant to wear a mask for an entire ballgame, and the restrictions on eating have made people less willing to come to games,” Wu said.

It would be pointless to completely lift social distancing on those terms, because fans would be unwilling to come. That being the case, the league decided to prioritize fans’ experience at the games, he said.

On May 28, the CECC announced that it would begin loosening restrictions on daily life considering the low risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Taiwan.

June 7 was set as the target date because it will represent 56 straight days with no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections, which represents four 14-day incubation periods for the disease.