Hostess clubs, ballrooms could reopen in Taipei as early as Thursday

Taipei,  Hostess clubs and ballrooms could reopen in Taipei on Thursday at the earliest, provided that they pass all relevant public safety inspections, the city government said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said the decision was made considering an easing of the COVID-19 coronavirus situation in Taiwan, which had so far recorded 440 cases and 37 straight days of zero domestic infections as of that day.

Life goes on and people need to start learning how to co-exist with COVID-19, Ko said.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on April 9 ordered hostess clubs across the country shut down, saying they posed a high risk of spreading COVID-19 after a hostess at a club in Taipei was confirmed to have the disease.

As the number of cases dwindled to practically zero in the first week of May, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, announced on May 8 that local governments can decide whether to reopen their cities’ hostess clubs under certain conditions.

Based on the CECC guidelines, businesses are required to ask customers follow social distancing measures, have them wear face masks, have their temperatures taken, and make sure they use hand sanitizer before entering such clubs.

The clubs will also be required to keep a register of the names and ID card numbers of each customer.

The previous day, however, Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) said that asking people to wear masks and maintain social distancing at dance venues or hostess clubs is impractical and that enforcing a real-name registration system and public safety inspections are more important.

In response, Chen asked at a daily CECC briefing later in the day: “Is disease prevention more important than dancing?”

Let’s not make this a complicated issue, he went on, adding that if people want to dance, they must simply follow personal protection guidelines, wear a mask or “dance a little farther apart.”

A discussion was held later that evening between Taipei city officials and 62 hostess club operators whose businesses have been suspended following the CECC order of April 9.

A general consensus was reached, and the city government decided to accept applications for business resumption permits, Huang told reporters after the meeting.

These operators, the deputy mayor said, will also need to undergo training on how to use a mobile app designed to register customers’ identities, which will then need to be uploaded to the city government’s data cloud storage.

This purpose of the app is to identify the source in case of a COVID-19 infection, she said, stressing that for privacy concerns, the city government will not tamper with or open the stored files “unless absolutely necessary” and that the information will be deleted within one month.

According to Huang, operators of a hostess club or ballroom could restart their businesses as early as Thursday if they submit their resumption applications on Tuesday and pass all relevant government safety inspections.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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