Taipei easing mask rules on public transportation

Passengers wear face masks on a train connecting Hanoi with the northern port city of Hai Phong on April 24, 2020 after Vietnam eased its social distancing rules and allowed this train to resume operation. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TAIPEI, Jun 6, 2020, Taipei Times. People using Taipei’s MRT metropolitan railway network and public bus system would no longer be required to wear masks at all times when in stations, metro cars or buses from tomorrow, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang announced yesterday, Taipei Times reported.

The mask requirement on public transport in Taipei is being eased on the same day the central government plans to relax disease prevention measures on trains and domestic flights, as there have been no domestic COVID-19 infections in nearly two months, she said.

“As long as social distancing can be maintained,” passengers riding the MRT and public buses in the city can remove their masks while at stations, in metro cars or buses, but would still be required to wear masks when entering a station or boarding a bus, she added.

Metro and bus drivers, as well as station personnel, would still be required to have their temperature checked and wear masks when on duty, the Taipei Public Transportation Office said.

Wearing masks remains obligatory for passengers who have a fever or respiratory symptoms, it said.

Separately yesterday, New Taipei City Department of Transportation Director Chung Ming-shih said that the easing of the mask requirement would be simultaneously implemented in New Taipei City, Keelung and Taoyuan to form a “zone defense” against the novel coronavirus.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has said that it plans to relax disease prevention measures on trains and domestic flights from tomorrow, as the spread of COVID-19 has eased in Taiwan.

Passengers on Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) trains would still have their temperature checked at the ticket barrier and be required to wear a mask, but can remove the mask afterward if certain conditions are met, it said.

Those conditions include observing proper social distancing, the ministry added.

Tomorrow has been chosen as the date for the relaxed provisions to be introduced because if there are no new domestic COVID-19 infections by then, it would be 56 days without any such cases — four 14-day incubation periods for the disease.

After the restrictions are eased, passengers would be allowed to eat on trains and domestic flights as long as social distancing is observed or neighboring passengers are wearing masks, the ministry said.

The TRA and THSRC yesterday said that they would resume serving food on their trains from tomorrow.

Passengers would be able to purchase boxed meals and packaged snacks, as well as use vending machines on the trains wherever they are available, they said.

However, passengers can only consume food if social distancing is observed, meaning that they must remain at least 1.5m from other people or passengers near them must wear masks, they added.

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