Taiwanese are returning to work and school today under new coronavirus prevention measures adopted over the holiday weekend.

Domestic travelers who had visited crowded places during the holiday would have to practice 14-day self-health management, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a press conference today. Chen has not defined “crowded places” but suggested vacation returnees should either work from home or notify their schools.

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on April 3 that all passengers must wear face masks to board any public transportation. The requirement was extended to taxi rides, permitting drivers to refuse passengers if they do not have face masks on.

Ahead of the Tomb Sweeping holiday last week, the Ministry of Transportation implemented the face mask measures for intercity railway and buses to minimize the risk of coronavirus infections.

Passengers without face masks will be denied entry to public transportation and are subject to penalties between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000. The Taipei City Council added that non-surgical or fabric masks are acceptable.

Temperature screening will also take place at post offices and railway stations.

Adult citizens will be able to purchase up to nine masks every two weeks starting on April 9. For those who have to rewear face masks due to insufficient supplies, the CECC recommends disinfecting worn face masks in a rice cooker.

Several hundred passengers have been reportedly denied boarding trains and buses since the measures came into effect. A few minor clashes occurred over the weekend between public transit staff and passengers who refused to wear masks.

Taiwan Railways Administration has also stopped food and beverage services on trains to deter passengers from taking off their masks onboard.

Chen proposed the guidelines for social distancing last week, advising that people should maintain a distance of 1 meter between each other indoors, and 1.5 meters outdoors.

Taiwan has reported a total of 363 cases of coronavirus infection and 5 deaths as of April 5, while 50 patients have been discharged from isolation.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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