Legislature passes Covid-19 support bill
By ECCT staff writers
Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (LY) has passed a bill authorising a series of measures aimed at supporting businesses and workers in Taiwan affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Restoration was shortly afterwards signed into law by President Tsai Ing-wen. The act authorises the use of NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion). Implementation is backdated to activities starting from 15 January this year and will end on 30 June next year.
The stabilisation package is aimed at protecting Taiwan industries from financial fallout caused by Covid-19. The initiative involves all government ministries and agencies involved in activities related to Taiwan’s economy.
Under the package, NT$50 billion has been earmarked for projects proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC). These include NT$4.4 billion for travel agencies to cover partial operating losses, as well as NT$9.83 billion for transportation firms in the form of tax breaks and subsidies to meet expenses like port facility charges, fuel costs and loan interest.
A further NT$5.45 billion will be allocated to promote domestic travel and improve related facilities, while NT$30 billion will be spent on designing annual themed travel packages, introducing new technologies and upgrading the tourism industry. Additional measures centred on softening the impact of the virus on society are under consideration. They are expected to be proposed and reviewed in the near future.
Also, under the act, medical workers and related personnel involved with disease prevention efforts will receive subsidies. They will also be given extra compensation should they fall ill or die as a result of their work, according to the act.
For individuals who have to undergo quarantine, the act stipulates that employers cannot list them as absent from work, or discriminate against them in any manner.
They will be entitled to apply for compensation within a two-year window, if they are not paid a salary during their period of quarantine or have not being given other forms of compensation.
The provisions also apply to employees who have to take time off work to care for family members in quarantine who are unable to take care of themselves.
The new act also allows the chief of the Central Epidemic Command Center to permit filming, photographing and disclosing the personal information of people who violate their home isolation or quarantine obligations.
The bill also raises significantly the penalties for violating quarantine terms, with individuals who violate their 14-day home quarantine terms facing fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$1 million, up from the NT$10,000 to NT$150,000 stipulated under the Communicable Disease Control Act.
Those who violate the home isolation terms will be fined between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million.
In addition, people who drive up the prices of supplies related to disease prevention or hoard such supplies will face prison terms of up to five years or fines of up to NT$5 million, while those who disseminate false information regarding the virus will face up to three years in prison or fines of up to NT$3 million.