The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday proposed mandating paid childcare leave to help people take care of their families as the government announced an extension of a nationwide COVID-19 level 3 alert.
The Central Epidemic Command Center on Thursday announced that the level 3 alert would be extended to July 26, but that regulations would be eased for some activities and venues, including restaurants, cinemas, museums and exhibition halls.
Given Taiwan’s low vaccination coverage, the government must be more cautious and issue clearer guidelines on the relaxation of disease prevention measures to prevent community spread, NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) told an online news conference.
Many companies have asked their workers to go back to work as the local outbreak eased, and this trend would only increase with the relaxation of COVID-19 curbs next week, NPP spokesman Chang Wei-hang said.
However, as schools remain closed, parents are faced with the problem of who would take care of their children when they return to work, Chang said.
Keeping schools and childcare centers closed while movie theaters and other entertainment venues reopen is confusing and illogical, he said.
The government must find a way to safely reopen childcare centers and schools, or give workers paid “disease prevention childcare leave” and subsidies until the outbreak is under control, he said.
“Parents should not be forced to choose between taking care of their children while going without pay or exposing them to risks of community spread,” he said.
The NPP also proposed creating a standard system that proves a person has been vaccinated or has tested negative for COVID-19.
Such proof is required for people taking part in indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees in the US or dining in a restaurant in Germany, while France uses a QR-code-based health passport, NPP think tank executive director Lee Chao-li (李兆立) said.
Taiwan should consider issuing similar health certificates or digital proof, which must be standardized to avoid counterfeiting and facilitate verification, he added.
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