Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation announced on Tuesday night that passengers have to wear face masks to board intercity railways and buses starting on April 1. The new measures came ahead of the Tomb Sweeping holiday when thousands of Taiwanese will be traveling to see their family.

The face mask requirement will apply to Taiwan High Speed Railway, Taiwan Railways Administration, intercity bus services, as well as post offices. Temperature screening will also take place and passengers will be denied entry if the reading surpasses 37.5 C.

As of April 1, these restrictions only apply to intercity transportation. City governments can decide independently whether they want to expand the restrictions to local metro systems. Taipei City has yet to propose any further measures for the MRT or city buses.

Taipei’s Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan said the city council might consider enforcing the face mask rule only when residents have enough supplies. The new system in which adult citizens can purchase up to nine masks every two weeks will be effective April 9.

It is meaningless to require all passengers to wear face masks if they have to reuse one mask for three to five days, Huang said.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung proposed the guidelines for social distancing at a press conference on Tuesday. Chen advised that people should maintain a distance of 1 meter between each other indoors, and 1.5 meters outdoors.

He acknowledged that it might be hard for the public to adhere to the social distancing guidelines on public transportation during rush hours, but still advised passengers to wear face masks.

“This is a suggestion, but I think people can do it,” Chen said.

Family reunions have traditionally marked the Tomb Sweeping holiday. Premier Su Tseng-chang reiterated that social distancing measures are designed for public interactions instead of family.

“We can never be sure of the travel history and health conditions of everyone in our social circles. We’re asking people to keep a safe distance to protect themselves and others,” Su said.

Taiwan has reported a total of 322 cases of coronavirus infection and five deaths as of March 31, while 39 patients have been discharged from isolation.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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