The Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) instruction that local governments can decide whether hostess clubs and dance halls can reopen is a typical example of the central government’s unwillingness to take responsibility, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday.
Ko made the remark in response to media queries on the sidelines of a blessing ceremony held at Taipei’s Sung Shan Tsu Huei Temple (松山慈惠堂) yesterday morning.
The CECC on April 9 ordered all hostess clubs and dance halls to suspend operations after a case of locally transmitted COVID-19 involving a hostess in northern Taiwan was confirmed the day before.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, on Friday said that local governments should assess whether businesses temporarily suspended due to disease prevention conform to disease prevention and safety requirements before giving them the green light to reopen.
“I know firsthand that the central government’s instruction that ‘local governments can decide whether to allow hostess clubs and dance halls to resume operations’ is a typical example of its unwillingness to take responsibility,” Ko said.
“Ordering the businesses to suspend operations was easy, but no one wants to take the responsibility for reopening them,” he said, adding that he told a meeting of Taipei City Government officials that the businesses should be allowed to reopen, but they told him that none of the other mayors had dared to make the decision.
Taiwan had not reported a new domestic case in 27 days, so hostess clubs and dance halls should be allowed to resume operations, Ko said.
Whether school campuses and other public spaces should be reopened to the public also requires further discussion, he said, adding that he would convene department officials to discuss the issue and establish standard operating procedures.
Local governments have difficulty verifying the eligibility of uninsured workers who apply to the central government’s NT$10,000 COVID-19 relief grant, but Taipei would handle most of the cases, only sending a few to be reviewed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, he added.
Asked about Ko’s remarks, Chen later yesterday said that the central government has issued the guidelines, but that local governments know the businesses in their area better.
“You cannot expect us [CECC heads] to inspect hostess clubs every day,” he said, adding that only local governments know if they have the personnel to inspect the businesses and ensure that they comply with the requirements.
The same is true of reviewing uninsured workers who file grant applications — local governments are better situated to conduct the initial review, giving out the payment if an applicant is clearly eligible and only seeking a final review from the ministry if truly necessary, Chen added.
Local government leaders are elected by voters, so they have the right to raise questions about the relief program or make suggestions, Chen said, adding that the ministry would discuss any problems they brought up and humbly accept any suggestions.
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