Taipei, The Taipei City Department of Health said Wednesday that the controversial discrepancy in fines imposed recently in two cases of foreign nationals contravening quarantine rules in Taiwan was because of the different circumstances in each case.
The four visiting disc jockeys (DJs) who were each fined NT$10,000 (US$354) in November were housed in a private residence and did not leave the premises, although they did congregate in the living room to eat and rehearse for their show, without wearing masks, the department said.
In the case of the migrant Filipino worker who was fined NT$100,000 in Kaohsiung in November, he was quarantined at a hotel, where people are not permitted to leave their rooms, and he broke that regulation, said Yu Tsan-hua (余燦華), chief of the Taipei City disease control division.
The Filipino was caught on security camera slipping out of his room on Nov. 13 and placing something at the door of another room in the same hallway at the hotel, which took 8 seconds in total, according to the Kaohsiung city government.
The significant difference in the fines imposed in the two cases has sparked heated discussions on social media, with some people saying the lack of consistency was annoying.
Asked about the issue, Yu told CNA that the four DJs from the United States and Europe had remained in their “home quarantine” location and there were no issues of them entering public spaces or having other people at the residence.
On the other hand, when the Filipino worker in Kaohsiung left his room, he immediately entered a public space in the hotel hallway, where there was risk of encountering other people, Yu said.
According to Central Epidemic Command Center spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), local governments have autonomy with regard to fines for violations of quarantine regulations.
The visiting DJs in Taipei were fined under the Communicable Disease Control Act, while the fine against the Filipino worker was based on the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens, which was enacted in February as part of Taiwan’s prevention and control measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yu did not explain why his city chose the Act with the lighter penalty instead of the Special Act, under which the DJs would have copped stiffer fines.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel