All state-run columbariums must strictly regulate how many visitors they host during Tomb Sweeping Day on Saturday next week to curb the spread of COVID-19, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said yesterday.
Hou asked people to use online worshipping services instead.
Electronic “tomb sweeping” systems, which display a virtual altar for people to make offerings and say prayers, can reduce crowd sizes at columbariums, Hou said during a site visit to Shulin Life Memorial Hall (樹林生命紀念館), a columbarium in the city’s Shulin Disrict (樹林).
Measures for admission control would be strictly implemented in state-run columbariums, Hou said, pointing to the Shulin columbarium, which would allow only 50 visitors indoors at a time to ensure people can have 1m between them.
The outbreak is likely to peak in the next two or three weeks, and while situations outside Taiwan are beyond its control, the nation can minimize the domestic spread of the virus, he said.
With 70 percent of quarantine beds already occupied, cluster infections would put a heavier burden on, or even collapse, Taiwan’s healthcare system, Hou said, highlighting that prevention is crucial.
Asked about his views on experts’ advice that campuses should close for two to three weeks if there are cluster infections in the city, Hou said that schools, hospitals and other public gathering spaces should all shut down if cluster infections occur, adding that allowing people to work from home is part of his response plan.
If schools are suspended, measures regarding online education are already in place, he added.
“We do not want it to happen, but we have to plan for the worst and make the most sufficient preparations,” he said.
To prevent people who have just returned to Taiwan from breaking mandatory home quarantine, the city government would cooperate with a special care committee — made up of representatives from local police offices, the Department of Health and district offices — to carry out random site checks in closed paces such as KTVs, he said.
The New Taipei City Government announced on Thursday last week that all public sports centers, activity centers and museums in the city would close for 14 days.
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