TAIPEI (THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Taiwan's Cabinet is seeking parliament approval to penalise people in Taiwan who violate quarantine measures by up to NT$1 million (S$46,200) as the island strives to keep the novel coronavirus epidemic under control.
This measure is part of the "Special Regulations on Prevention and Relief of Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia Bill" that the Cabinet hopes to implement as soon as possible to counter the outbreak.
Once approved, violations against the 14-days mandated quarantine will be punishable by NT$200,000 to NT$1 million, Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng told a press conference on Thursday (Feb 20).
Those who break home-isolation guidelines, which is another type of home quarantine but with looser rules, could be fined between NT$100,000 to NT$1 million, Lo added.
In Taiwan, there are three types of epidemic response measures that restrict physical movements as introduced by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) based on the Communicable Disease Control Act: Home quarantine, home isolation, and self-health management.
The former two have more stringent requirements and are legally binding. They ban leaving the house altogether and involve regular check ups from local authorities.
People issued a self-health management notice are not banned from leaving the house, but recommended wearing masks when doing so.
Previously, home quarantine and home isolation are regulated by the Communicable Disease Control Act. Violations are punishable by fines between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000, and between NT$10,000 and NT$150,000 respectively.
Once the parliament gives the go-ahead, which is highly anticipated to happen since the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holds the legislative majority, the maximum penalty for violating both mandated quarantine and home isolation would be NT$1 million.
Since quarantine measures were put in place, authorities have been tracking down escapees up and down the island.
Three travellers from Hong Kong were arrested and each fined NT$70,000 earlier this week after escaping from their designated quarantine sites and reporting false information on health declaration cards upon arrival in Taiwan.
Reports of people going awol circulating on social media have incited fear and anger, and calls for heavier punishment.