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Taipei City Government’s epidemic prevention, distress grant, and industrial revitalization strategies for fighting COVID-19

I. Topic of concern: home isolation and home quarantine

(1) Home isolation (individuals who had contact with others confirmed to have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are tracked by health departments)
  • Tracking by health departments
  • Two telephone or video calls per day to monitor the health of the isolated individuals
  • Immediate 24-h services are available through the epidemic prevention hotline
(2) Home quarantine (individuals who have traveled overseas are tracked by civil affairs departments)
  • Tracking by civil affairs departments
  • Two phone calls per day at random times
(3) Medical care arrangement
  • Individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms are sent to a designated hospital in an ambulance assigned by the Fire Department.
  • Individuals who are critically ill but do not have COVID-19-like symptoms are sent to a hospital by family members in private vehicles or with the assistance of epidemic prevention taxi fleets.
  • Individuals without urgent or chronic diseases or COVID-19-like symptoms receive remote diagnosis and treatment.
(4) Fines for violating epidemic prevention regulations:
  • Individuals under home isolation or quarantine are monitored through mobile phone positioning. If violations of relevant regulations are identified, the police will help produce an on-site visit record form, attach relevant evidence, and submit the documents to the Department of Health for judgment or assistance in compulsory placement. The Department of Health examines the documents and assesses whether the evidence satisfies the criteria of levying a fine. If so, a fine notification is issued.

II. Epidemic prevention measures at examination halls of the Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students in Taipei City

Key points of high-standard epidemic prevention measures for examination-related tasks in Taipei City:
(1) Body temperature measurement: In addition to infrared thermometers installed at the entrance of each test site, five to seven body temperature measurement stations are established to disperse traffic and mitigate the density of students entering the examination venue at one time.

(2) Number of students in a examination venue and backup venues: According to governmental regulations, each examination venue accommodates 42 students. All institutes that host examinations should not only prepare primary backup examination venues but also four additional secondary backup examination venues. If the secondary backup examination venues are occupied, each site may accommodate no more than five students who may be contagious because of fever or respiratory tract symptoms; the students should be arranged in properly distanced seats.

(3) Mask wearing: All students must wear masks (students with allergies may use suitable protective masks) and cooperate with the proctors in identity verification. At the examination venues, supplemental masks are provided for students whose masks may be dirtied or damaged during examination.

(4) Innovative and safe lunch planning: Students are required to have their lunch at their examination venues. “Multifunctional epidemic prevention partitioning” are provided to the students, service teams, and examination affairs personnel during lunchtime.

(5) Parents are not allowed to accompany their children to their examinations except for those who have been approved because of students’ disabilities, major injuries or diseases, or other unexpected injuries or diseases. Each junior high school can assign examinee service teams (the number of participants is twice the number of the ninth-grade classes plus 10); if the number of examinees from one school exceeds 500 or 700, then 2 or 4 more members can be added to the team, respectively.

(6) On the days of examination, air conditioning may be used with the windows open 10 cm and front and back doors open. Host schools must simulate air conditioning use before the day of examination and perform high-voltage tests to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.

III. Research and development of the identification-based mask vending machine

(1) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taipei City Government has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Health Insurance Administration. The Taipei Smart City Project Management Office recruited entrepreneurs and integrated the identification (ID)-based mask database of the National Health Insurance Administration to promote the ID-based mask automatic vending system pilot project. A trial of the system started on April 11, 2020, at the Xinyi District Health Center. On April 24, the trial system was installed at the Wenshan and Wanhua District Health Centers. This project is part of the Taipei Smart City Industrial Field Pilot Program in which all expenditures, including machines and technology development, are covered by the contractors. The Taipei City Government filed no expenditures during the pilot stage.

(2) On April 30, 2020, Daodu Tech interviewed Audrey Tang, Digital Minister without Portfolio, who stated, “Mask vending machines did the same. I appreciate the Taipei Smart City Project Management Office for their demonstration. Their vending machines link to the National Health Insurance Administration through the same virtual private network [VPN] and adopt same privacy protection measures. That’s what they have done. Therefore, when we link to convenience stores, we can use the existing VPN links and application programming interface. Hence, I appreciate the Taipei Smart City Project Management Office.” She approved of Taipei City’s ID-based mask vending machine project, which provided a solid developmental foundation for the 3.0 phase of mask distribution, thereby increasing the efficiency of the epidemic prevention system and facilitating convenient mask purchase.

(3) In accordance with the central governmental policy, the 12 District Health Centers in Taipei City sold 899,986 masks (including those sold from vending machines) between February 21, when ID-based mask selling services were launched, and May 8.

IV. Distress relief actions in Taipei City

Taipei City Government’s nine short-term distress relief measures:
1. Deferred tax payment: the following groups can apply for a 12-month deferral of tax payments:
  • Profit-seeking businesses that experience a 15% reduction in revenue
  • Individuals who receive distress grants from the central government
  • Landlords who reduce their rents by 15% or more.
2. Rental reduction
  • Individuals who rent city-owned properties for business operation enjoy a 50% reduction in rent and premiums between March and May 2020.
  • Those who rent national housing or social housing enjoy a 20% reduction in rent between March and May 2020.
  • A further rental reduction from June to August 2020 can be applied.
3. Fee reduction
  • Business water fees (including those for hot springs) have been reduced by 15%.
  • The water fees of epidemic prevention hospitals and hotels have been reduced by 50% in line with the public water fees of the City Government.
  • A further reduction from June to August 2020 has been implemented.
4. Preferential interest
  • Small- and medium-sized enterprises can receive loans with a 1.5% interest reduction. The borrowing enterprises assume a low interest rate at only 0.92%.
  • Publicly owned pawnbrokers that have been affected by the pandemic enjoy a 50% reduction in their interest.
5. Subsidies
  • Individuals or their co-living relatives and friends who are under home isolation or quarantine and check into epidemic prevention hotels, quarantine institutes, or legal hotels in Taipei City receive a subsidy of NT$7000.
  • The commercial vehicles of passenger transport industries and vehicle rental businesses are subsidized with 50% of their vehicle license tax.
  • Hotel subsidies are granted on the basis of their house tax and land value tax from NT$0.1 million to NT$9 million.
  • Life subsidies are issued for epidemic prevention compensation, emergency aid, and economically disadvantaged groups.
  • Each commercial bus of Taipei City is subsidized with NT$8000 per month.
  • The freight rate of the Taipei Joint Bus System does not include the 40% deduction from the vehicles’ advertisement income.
6. Tax reduction
  • The house tax is reduced from 3% to 2% for floor areas not rented by businesses because of the pandemic.
  • The entertainment tax is reduced in accordance with the reduction of revenue as a result of the pandemic.
  • The vehicle license tax is waived on a daily basis for vehicles with applications for license cancelation.
7. Deferred rental payment
Businesses whose revenue decreased by 15% can defer their March–May rental payments for 1 year or extend their contracts in accordance with the decrease in revenue (OT/ROT).
  • Defer June–August rental payment for 1 year.
    *ROT (Reconstruction, Operation, and Transfer)
    *OT (Operation and Transfer)
8. Rental discontinuance: Rental calculation is suspended in accordance with the unrented commercial area due to the pandemic.

9. Labor distress relief: Taipei City’s Thousand People Epidemic Prevention Employment Project versions 1.0 and 2.0.

V. Taipei City Government’s short-term actions for industrial revitalization

“Stimulate consumption and activate the economy”

1. Input of more than NT$300 million into the revitalization of epidemic-affected industries:
  • Wholesalers, retailers, commercial districts, night markets, department stores, and restaurants: More than 20 actions have been executed in five major dimensions. The expected amount of input exceeds NT$77 million.
  • Tourism industry: expected input of NT$27 million
  • Art and cultural industries: expected input of NT$160 million
  • Curation industry: expected input of NT$34 million
  • Sports industry: expected input exceeding NT$2 million
2. Provide various venue fees and ticket discounts

3. Apply for funds from the central government.

VI. Taipei City Government’s vision for long-term economic revitalization

“Construct a new life industry model where people co-live with the disease”

1. Crisis → opportunity: The pandemic is an opportunity for Taiwan to reform its industrial patterns.

2. Replacement → Emergence:
  • Old industries will be replaced by emerging industries.
  • Overtaking: New operating models will emerge to maintain life and the economy.
3.Confrontation → accommodation
  • Learn to co-live with the disease
  • Reconstruct original habits in daily life

On the basis of the daily activities of people, we have invited experts from academia and industry in different fields to hold a series of online forums to identify new business models for daily consumption and economic activities in terms of restaurants, recreation and entertainment, hospitality and tourism, shopping, education, and working from home.