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Source: US Global Legal Monitor

(Apr. 30, 2020) On April 21, 2020, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (Special Act) to increase the relief budget from 60 billion new Taiwan dollars (NT$, about US$2 billion) to NT$210 billion (about US$7 billion). (Art. 11.)

The Special Act, which was enacted on February 25, 2020, authorizes government expenditure on relief, compensation, and economic stimulus in fighting the current COVID-19 pandemic. The source of funding required for the budget may come from the surplus of the previous fiscal year’s revenues or debt raising. (Art. 11.)

Under the act, the government health authority will provide subsidies and allowances to medical personnel engaged in disease prevention and control, medical services, and medical care in both private and public medical institutions. (Art. 2.) Individuals who are assigned to home isolation, home quarantine, group isolation, or group quarantine, as well as relevant family members caring for those individuals, may apply for compensation from the government health authority, and employers are directed by the act to grant paid leave. (Art. 3.)

In addition to providing economic relief, the Special Act prescribes penalties for price gouging, carriers or suspected carriers endangering others, misinformation, and violation of isolation or quarantine orders during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Price gouging on disease-prevention devices, equipment, drugs, medical equipment, or other disease-prevention supplies is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to NT$5 million (about US$166,000). (Art. 12.)
  • If a carrier or suspected carrier of the coronavirus fails to comply with the orders of the health authorities and therefore endangers others, the penalty is a fine of up to NT$2 million (about US$66,000) or up to two years in prison. (Art. 13.)
  • Spreading misinformation regarding the epidemic is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, a fine of up to NT$3 million (about US$100,000), or both. (Art. 14.)
  • Violating isolation or quarantine measures is punishable by a fine of up to NT$1 million (about US$33,000). (Art. 15.)

The Special Act is effective from January 15, 2020, through June 30, 2021, but the articles involving penalties are effective from the date of publication. Further extensions must be granted by the Legislative Yuan. (Art. 19.)

Taiwan’s president acclaimed the legislature for its prompt response to the COVID-19 pandemic by enacting the Special Act. “The legal basis needed by the government in the course of its response to this pandemic have been properly provided by the Communicable Disease Control Act as amended in the wake of the SARS epidemic, and the special legislation our Legislative Yuan has quickly enacted in response to the current pandemic,” said the president.