The Executive Yuan yesterday said it is seeking approval from the Legislative Yuan to extend the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例規定) to June 30 next year, given the fast-changing COVID-19 situation at home and abroad.
While Article 19 of the act says that it is to expire on June 30, Article 2 says it can be extended with the legislature’s approval, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said.
“It is necessary for the government to continue implementing disease prevention measures and ensure that Taiwan has sufficient medical resources and healthcare personnel, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect Taiwan and other countries,” Lo said.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“As the development of the pandemic remains unpredictable, the length of the extension period should be considered with leniency, so we are seeking approval from the legislature to extend the act’s expiration date and the period of the COVID-19 relief fund to June 30 next year,” he added.
Of the NT$839.33 billion (US$28.83 billion) in relief funds approved by the Legislative Yuan, about NT$130 billion has yet to be disbursed, Lo said.
“Our priority now is to continue enforcing the special act and the budget plan for the remaining relief funds. At the moment, we do not have any plan to increase the budget for the COVID-19 relief fund,” Lo said, adding that the government would make adjustments based on the latest virus situation.
In related news, domestic airlines have agreed to waive the processing fee for travelers who want to cancel or change plane tickets following a change in the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease prevention policy for travelers in domestic tour groups, the Tourism Bureau said in a statement.
The center on Friday last week announced that, starting on Friday, domestic travelers and tour guides must have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine if the group is comprised of strangers.
The policy does not apply to travelers who have yet to receive a booster shot because they had their second dose less than three weeks ago, or those who are to travel with relatives or work colleagues.
Following the center’s announcement, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) instructed the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Tourism Bureau to help travelers recover fees they had paid.
Domestic airlines have agreed to waive the processing fee from canceling or changing a plane ticket for travelers who made a reservation before today for a domestic tour departing on or after Friday, the bureau said, adding that travel agencies must apply for a processing fee waiver before Friday.
Domestic tours leaving after Friday must follow the disease prevention guidelines issued by the center, it added.
Travelers affected by the change in policy are entitled to seek a refund from travel agencies based on Article 13 of the standardized contract for domestic tours, which allows travel agencies to remit funds to travelers after deducting nonrefundable fees, the bureau said, adding that it had reached an agreement with the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee on the matter.
Hoteliers have told the bureau they would negotiate with travel agencies on refunding customers on the basis of building mutual trust and long-term partnerships, the bureau said.
“We urge people who have received a second dose of a COVID-9 vaccine to get a booster following a three-week interval, which allows them to travel safely and comply with the government’s disease prevention policy at the same time,” Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張鍚聰) said.
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