The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday outlined travel guidelines for long weekends to prevent cluster infections of COVID-19 and said that it would officially declare them soon.
Some have suggested that the government either cancel the International Workers’ Day long weekend from May 1 to 3 or impose a domestic travel ban, after many travelers failed to observe “social distancing” rules recommended by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) — 1.5m in outdoor areas and 1m while indoors — during the Tomb Sweeping Day long weekend.
Others have suggested that the government target 11 popular travel destinations with text messages reminding people to practice social distancing.
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times
The government has realized the importance of crowd control at outdoor events and regards it as a disease prevention challenge following the Tomb Sweeping holiday, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) said in an interview at the Legislative Yuan.
Following the gathering of large crowds during the long weekend, the public is concerned whether the COVID-19 situation would worsen, he said.
Giving an example, Chi said that how to properly disinfect facilities at night markets remains an issue, as visitors are likely to take off their masks and walk while eating.
The ministry and the CECC have jointly stipulated general principles governing the size of crowds in scenic areas, travel destinations and hotels, Chi said.
Specifically, safe capacity at amusement parks would be lowered to 50 percent of their maximum capacity during the nation’s disease prevention period, he said.
At certain popular theme parks, the public would be warned against visiting the venues if they reach their safe capacity, he added.
If the number of visitors at a theme park reaches 55 percent of its maximum capacity, the management would have to start limiting foot traffic, Chi said.
The managements of outdoor scenic areas can start restricting the entry of vehicles to parking facilities if the number of parked vehicles reach 50 percent of the facility’s capacity, he said.
If a scenic area can accommodate more than 100 people at a time, the management can also set a daily limit on the number of visitors and ask people to make reservations in advance, he added.
Visitors to indoor facilities would be asked to enter and exit venues from a single point of access, Chi said.
If the number of visitors inside a venue reach 50 percent of capacity, people would be required to visit during different hours of the day, he said.
As travel destinations are overseen by different government agencies, each agency would have to set its own criteria to regulate the entry of visitors, Chi said.
In other developments, the Tourism Bureau yesterday said that it would extend a policy that bans travel agencies from organizing overseas trips or hosting international tourists until May 31 in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases at home and overseas.
Meanwhile, Taoyuan International Airport Corp said that it is considering closing one of the two terminals at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for renovation after the number of travelers using the facility dropped to less than 1,000 per day, the lowest since the airport opened 41 years ago.
The airport company estimated that closing Terminal 1 would affect 250 weekly flights, while 400 weekly flights would be affected if Terminal 2 is closed.
Chi said that the company would brief ministry officials about its assessment of the situation, but added that it has to address several issues first.
It has to consider how airplanes would share the use of airport facilities if there is only one terminal available and how much time it would have to finish the renovation, which would depend on when the pandemic would slow, he said.
“If the disease ends sooner than expected, can [a single] terminal handle the rapid surge in travelers?” he asked.
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