The nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended to Oct. 18, while more domestic restrictions are to be eased starting today, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its daily briefing yesterday, as it also reported no locally transmitted cases for the fifth consecutive day.
Starting today, religious pilgrimage tours on vehicles are allowed, but pilgrimages on foot or parades remain prohibited, said Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is the deputy head of the center.
Checkerboard and pre-arranged seating is no longer required at religious events or gatherings, Chen said, adding that banquets are allowed if they conform to the COVID-19 safety guidelines for restaurants.
The accommodation capacity for religious groups is to be expanded to four people per room, with the exception of family members who live together, he added.
Restaurants are no longer required to use table dividers or have customers seated 1.5m apart, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said at the briefing.
Toasting around the tables is also allowed, but the center urges people to reduce the frequency of making toasts, she said, adding that shared dishes and buffets are no longer limited to being served by restaurant staff members.
However, Chen said that people must still wear a mask when they leave their seats in restaurants, so wearing a mask is required when making a toast at other tables.
Toasting should be for showing gratitude, not drinking, he added.
Prepared foods at convenience stores are not required to be served by store clerks, and news anchors can remove their masks during broadcasts if they can practice social distancing with other staff members in the studio, he said.
Chen said the general rules for crowd density at business venues and public spaces remain the same — no more than one person per 2.25m2 indoors and one person per 1m2 outdoors.
The maximum crowd capacity for gatherings — including meetings, exhibitions, wedding banquets and feasts — is still limited to no more than 80 people indoors or 300 people outdoors, but the venues can also accommodate more people if they can comply with the crowd density rule — no more than one person per 2.25m2 indoors and one person per 1m2 outdoors, Chen said.
The maximum visitor capacity for national parks — including campsites, cabins and hiking trails — has been expanded, while the allowable density for memorial ceremonies remains the same as the general rules for business venues and public spaces, the center’s guidelines showed.
Cabarets, dance halls, nightclubs, clubhouses, hostess bars and pubs will remain closed, Chen said.
The CECC reported no new local infections, but five imported cases and one death.
The five imported cases are four men and a woman, aged between 20 and 60 who arrived from Indonesia and Belize, Chen said.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said the death was a man in his 70s who tested positive when he was registering to stay at a long-term care facility in August. He was hospitalized instead, although his test result showed a low viral count.
The man was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 15 and was transferred to a nursing home, where he later developed chronic lung disease, and the cause of death on the death certificate was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he said.
The death was still recorded as related to COVID-19, as the man died on Saturday, which was within 60 days of his diagnosis, Lo added.
Regarding border control measures, Chen announced that starting from midnight yesterday, the mandatory at-home COVID-19 rapid testing required “between the 10th and 12th day of quarantine” after arriving in Taiwan for inbound travelers has changed.
The at-home rapid test should instead be conducted on “the sixth or seventh day of self-health management, after ending quarantine,” and the recipients must report their test results through the CECC’s two-way SMS messaging system, he said.
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