As local cases of Covid-19 have slowly climbed in Taiwan, Taichung has decided to implement measures to ban field and graduation trips to prevent the spreading of the virus.
As calls to strengthen lockdown measures increase across Taiwan, Taichung is taking prophylactic measures ahead of the The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Taichung is prohibiting cross-city and cross county-travel. This is especially impactful for students, a number of whom have yet to go on their graduation trips.
Though this number is relatively small, reportedly less than 20 out of the over 300 schools in Taichung have yet to take their graduation trips. Though this is still going to upset students as many look forward to these trips for years. The good news for the students is that this is not a permanent ban and if the pandemic returns to lower rates of infection they can reschedule their trips.
Field trips have also been halted for the time being. This is unfortunate due to the potential benefits that this sort of hands on education can have. Though again it may be only for a short time and large groups of students traveling from place to place and interacting with people outside groups could greatly increase the risk of community spread of covid.
The tour bus industry is not happy about this decision though as they have already been hard hit by the pandemic. As less people have been traveling during the pandemic, and also because it is nearly impossible for people outside of Taiwan to enter, the number of people renting tour busses has greatly diminished. While there was some positive uptick in tours since Taiwan got its local spread under control, following a period in early 2020 where there were hundreds of cases per day. Currently with the numbers slowly creeping up again, it is looking like there may be a down turn in business once more.
Perhaps bus companies will be able to get more economic relief to offset lost revenue, as this is the livelihood of a significant number of people. The current offer for ending these contracts is only a 30 percent subsidy. This is unlikely to satisfy many companies and their workers and might affect people’s opinion of the local government.
Taichung’s mayor, Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕), is relatively popular according to recent polling sitting around plus 6 in favorability ratings, and it will be interesting to see how such policies affect her and other local politicians in the city. With the local elections coming up in November of this year, this will likely weigh heavily on everyone’s minds.