ICRT Weekly Central Taiwan News Report, Jan 27–transcript

Pandemic measures continue to increase

In an echo of last spring, more pandemic measures are being imposed.
Last week saw a large number of big events cancelled, including the Lantern Festival, and more, smaller events have been added to the list since then.
Preventive measures will be taken at sites where crowds gather such as traditional markets, malls, temples, traffic hubs and famous scenic sites.
In Taichung, all 67 hospitals no longer allow patient visitors.
Those under hospice care can receive one visitor a day, but only if the doctor-in-residence signs off on it.
Taichung is once again dispatching sterilization crews, planning to sterilize 579 high-risk locations by the end of the month.
After staying at less than 2000 all last year, the number of home quarantine cases in Taichung is poised to surpass 5000 as people return from overseas to visit family for the Lunar New Year holidays.
In Changhua, all 31 hospitals are now implementing a card-swipe system to control and track traffic in-and-out.
The Changhua County government has reinstated requiring visitors to register with ID, temperature checks and hand sterilization.
Taiwan Cinemas in Changhua, which made the decision to close last April and use the pandemic period as an opportunity to renovate, is scheduled to re-open on February 5.
That may not happen if pandemic measures continue to grow stricter.
In Nantou, hospital patients are limited to two visits of no more than 30 minutes each.

Man faces big fine for breaking quarantine

A man who returned from China on January 21 has sparked outrage and fear in Taichung after he broke his quarantine seven times in just three days, starting the very first night.
He was confronted by the door guard at the building he lived in in the Shengang District, but he refused to be swayed, saying he needed to buy food.
The guard alerted the borough chief, who also tried to convince the man to stay home, but was also rebuffed.
The borough chief then alerted city officials.
Mayor Lu Shiow-yen was not amused, saying the man’s conduct as a serious offense that endangered the health and safety of others, and adding such behavior would not be tolerated.
He will be fined NT$1 million, and has been sent to a designated quarantine facility by the city.

DPP lawmakers surprise move on Taipower

In a surprise move, a group of Taichung and Changhua DPP lawmakers–as well as Chen Po-wei of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party–led by deputy speaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) held a press conference on the 26th calling for the decommissioning of the Taichung Power Plant to be accelerated.
The Taichung Power Plant is Taiwan’s largest single stationary source of air pollution, and has 10 units of coal- and natural-gas powered units.
They called for the decommissioning and dismantlement of coal-powered unit one to be brought forward from 2029 to 2027.
They also called for coal-fired unit two to cease operations early, but not be dismantled “in case of an emergency”.
The group also pushed for the decommissioning of all 10 units, originally scheduled for 2046, to be brought forward to 2035.
In recent years the KMT has led the charge on this issue, and responded positively to “any progress”, though several commented they hoped for faster progress.
It is unclear if there is widespread support within the DPP caucus from outside of central Taiwan, however.

Taichung to get tough on food waste

In October of 2019 Taichung began seriously collecting food waste from households across the city.
Since then the amount of food waste collected in regular, non-recycle garbage has dropped from 23.5% to 17.2%.
To improve those numbers further, starting on January 1 next year the city will begin imposing fines for not properly disposing of food waste.
The fines will range from NT$1200 up to NT$6000.

Taichung is #1, but not in a good way

Taichung last year was number one among the big metropolises in one statistic that isn’t welcome news: Traffic deaths.
Taichung had 201 such deaths last year, narrowly surpassing Kaohsiung’s 200.
It was also a huge leap from two years ago, when Taichung only 93 deaths, the second best among the big six.
In related news, the city is encouraging bus ridership.
Taichung is planning to boost the number of electric buses in the city to 290 in 2022.
Taichung currently leads the country with 197 electric buses.

Population changes

The registered population in Taichung hit 2,820,787 at the end of 2020.
That was up 0.196 percent, the third-largest growth among the six municipalities.
In related news, Changhua–in spite of a slowly shrinking population–saw the highest birthrate in Taiwan in 2020 at 9.53%.
Many attributed this to Changhua’s affordable housing and local subsidies for children.

Food delivery booms in Taichung

According to FoodPanda, food delivery orders tripled in 2020 in Taichung due to the pandemic.
That put Taichung second overall, surpassing Taipei City.
The number one breakfast orders were for fried noodles and milk tea.
Other favourites included egg pancakes, hot dogs, French fries, hash browns and turnip cakes.
McDonalds topped the list of chain restaurants ordered from.

Image courtesy of 臺中市政府交通局 FB

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