Taipei, April 22 (CNA) A union of delivery workers has voiced objections against a measure by Taiwan’s government that they deliver meals directly to the doorstep of people under COVID-19 home quarantine, and instead called for a “national delivery team” to help with food deliveries, so that they can avoid being exposed to the virus.
The National Delivery Union said in a press release issued on Friday that the government should recruit a “national delivery team” to help with picking up the meals ordered by people undergoing home isolation and delivering them to their doorstep.
Mild or asymptomatic COVID-19-infected individuals or those listed as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases can quarantine at home under Taiwan’s recently revised quarantine guidelines.
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According to the union, people who voluntarily join the national delivery team must be provided with personal protective gear to minimize the risk of infection. It also urged the government to provide the volunteers with higher subsidies.
The union’s call came after the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) asked the management office of residential complexes or janitors not to block delivery people from bringing meals or daily necessity to the door of people under home quarantine.
If people isolating at home have no choice but to leave their home for pickup, which is not permitted under the CECC’s quarantine regulations, “there would be a higher risk of COVID-19 infection in their community,” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at the CECC’s daily press briefing on Wednesday.
Chen said he didn’t see why the union was opposed to having delivery workers get the orders to those under home quarantine because they only need to leave the orders outside the door of their home without having to come into contact with them.
Amid the spike in domestic COVID-19 cases, the CECC has allowed home quarantined people to place orders with delivery service operators and asked delivery people to ship their orders to where they stay to meet their daily needs, but complaints have arisen where building security guards or janitors stop delivery workers from entering their building.
The Taipei City government announced on Thursday that the management office of residential complexes must get the merchandise to those under home quarantine, if they refuse delivery workers’ entry or face a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$341) and NT$150,000, citing Article 69 of the Communicable Disease Control Act.
The Kaohsiung City government, meanwhile, has decided that all 6,500 such management offices in the city will be fined between NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 for not cooperating in its infection prevention measures, such as denying food delivery to residents under quarantine.
The reluctance of delivery people to take orders to places where home quarantined people are staying might leave those who live alone in buildings without a security guard or janitor unable to get their orders.
In response to a question from the media on Friday on whether those individuals will be exempted from the CECC’s guidelines and be allowed to go downstairs to pick up orders, Chen said they can “throw their keys” from their apartments upstairs so delivery people can open the front door to the building, take the orders to them and return the keys.
Chen did not elaborate on what to do if food couriers refuse to take the orders to customers even if they have the keys to the apartment building.
Opposition Kuomintang Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said Saturday that Chen’s remarks clearly show that he has yet to think through the issue, or that he does not fully understand the anxiety of people under quarantine and food delivery couriers.
(By Chang Min-shuan, Chiang Hui-chun, Chen Chieh-ling, Wu Hsin-yun, Tsai Men-yu, Chen Yu-ting and Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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