The government would use all available resources to help the nation’s two largest airlines weather a crisis caused by COVID-19, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan last week approved a budget of about NT$16.85 billion (US$560.96 million) proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to bail out and boost the nation’s tourism industry and transport businesses, which have been severely affected by the global coronavirus epidemic.
However, there have been concerns that the budget might not be sufficient to cover all of the financial losses sustained by travel agencies and airlines.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
In addition to the budget, which was appropriated under the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Tourism Bureau have their own operational funds, Lin said before a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee.
The ministry would consider increasing the relief budget if there are not enough funds, he said, adding that priority should be based on the public interest.
About NT$4.2 billion of the budget would be used to support the nation’s two largest carriers — China Airlines and EVA Airways — which were forced to cancel scores of flights due to the outbreak, as well as duty-free shops in airports, Lin said.
The government would also reduce royalties, aircraft landing fees and other charges, he said, adding that the shortage in revenue would be compensated by the fund.
“They [the airlines] represent the nation. We should exhaust all possible means to support them under such a challenging situation,” Lin said.
“We also hope that they will hang in there, and not ask travel agencies and travelers to share their losses,” he said.
“Should the global COVID-19 outbreak persist, we will recommend that the government prepare a special bailout package for airlines,” he added.
Asked about the ministry’s plan to transport Taiwanese returning to the nation for next month’s Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, Lin said that the government yesterday launched a special taxi service at airports to ensure that public transportation does not become a hole in disease-prevention efforts.
This would help to more effectively control the flow of arriving travelers, particularly those from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Italy and Iran, he said.
The service would ensure that travelers quickly arrive at their homes and begin a mandatory 14-day home quarantine after signing a health declaration or home quarantine notice, he added.
Lin expressed support for Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp’s (THSRC) decision to cancel all non-reserved seating during the holiday and to require all passengers to reserve seats under their real names.
The measures would help to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly in peak hours, when there is a lot of foot traffic in and out of high-speed rail stations, he said.
THSRC yesterday announced that it would install a total of 12 infrared thermal scanners at Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Zuoying stations before the holiday.
Two in Taoyuan have begun operations, it said.
The ministry has also already discussed allowing ministry officials to work remotely and breaking down big meetings into smaller ones should the disease continue to spread, with video conferencing an option if necessary, Lin said.
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while
BILINGUAL ASSISTANCE: The center launched a chat bot that features Chinese and English interfaces to provide foreigners with instant information about the pandemic The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis. Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus. Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
Nematode-trapping fungi have been found to be natural killers of nematodes and their mechanisms might facilitate the development of new drugs or biological control agents, an Academia Sinica researcher said yesterday. Mostly measuring less than 1mm, nematodes are found in soil worldwide and most are not visible to the naked eye, Academia Sinica Institute of Molecular Biology assistant research fellow Hsueh Yen-ping (薛雁冰) told a news conference in Taipei. Some nematodes can cause infections in humans or damage plants, but existing pesticides, such as ivermectin, aldicarb and levamisole, can only inhibit their activity and the poisons’ efficacy are declining due to