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How Taiwan became a global outlier for live, post pandemic

Taiwan has become the envy of the global live music industry after enjoying many months of full-capacity festivals, concerts and events.

The east Asian country, which has a population of more than 23 million, has recorded a mere 603 cases and only seven deaths during the pandemic, despite being close to mainland China where the virus began.

The country recently celebrated a record 200 consecutive days without any domestically transmitted cases of Covid-19, making it even more successful than New Zealand (which has a far smaller population) and Vietnam – both of which have been lauded for their efforts since March.

Taiwan’s success with controlling the virus has been tied to a number of factors, including: an early response which brought in strict control measures such as two weeks of quarantine for anyone flying into the island; a generous amount of resources being poured into testing and tracing and checks on travellers arriving from Wuhan as early as December last year.

On top of that, the island’s previous exposure to the Sars epidemic meant that preparations were extensive and up to date.

As a result, the nation has managed to maintain a positive rate of economic growth, and unemployment rate dropped to 3.83% in September, the lowest seen in six months.

Thanks to these precautions and achievements, the country saw a return to live as early as June when the Taiwanese government lifted all limits on the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings, including cultural events, and removed the need for social distancing at concert halls and stadiums.

Taiwain has recorded a mere 603 cases and only seven deaths during the pandemic

Following that, Taiwanese artist Eric Chou delivered Asia’s first post-Covid arena shows to a sold-out, full-capacity Taipei Arena (cap. 15,350) on 8 and 9 August.

Fans were still required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks upon entry, and provide identification that would facilitate contact tracing should the need arise. Pink medical masks and square alcohol wipes were provided.

Since then, however, measures are not being as strictly enforced. Last Saturday (14 November), some 10,000 – mostly maskless – patrons crammed together at Dajie Riverside Park in Taipei for Ultra festival, a worldwide electronic music festival franchise.

A carefree audience enjoyed performances from domestic and international artists (who would have quarantined for 14 days upon entering the country) including Kayzo, Vini Vici, Slander and Alesso.

Artists have been among those praising the nation for its efforts in tackling coronavirus. Last Tuesday (10 November), world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave thanks to the audience and praised the people of Taiwan for their “truly amazing” feat during his concert.

His performance at Taipei Music Center to more than 4,000 fans was his first in front of a live audience since March.

One of the nation’s biggest triumph in terms of live events, however, came last month as tens of thousands celebrated the LGBTQ+ community in Taipei.

On the 31 October, the capital hosted the biggest in-person pride event of 2020 since the pandemic began, drawing an estimated 130,000 people.

 


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Taiwan revels in success of first post-Covid arena show

Taiwanese artist Eric Chou performed to a sold-out, full-capacity Taipei Arena (cap. 15,350) on 8 and 9 August, delivering Asia’s first post-Covid arena shows.

In July, the singer announced a series of four concerts in major arenas in Taiwan – including two upcoming dates at the 15,000-capacity Kaohsiung Arena on 5 and 6 September – which sold out in a quarter of an hour.

All attendees of the Tapei Arena shows were required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks upon entry, and provide identification that would facilitate contact tracing should the need arise. Pink medical masks and square alcohol wipes were provided.

“We were the first to do it during this Covid-19 situation, and there was a lot of preparation,” Chou told the South China Morning Post. “But the show went really well – every part was exactly like how I pictured it was going to be.”

The concerts come after the Taiwanese government lifted all limits on the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings, including cultural events, on 7 June, and removed the need for social distancing at concert halls and stadiums.

“The show went really well – every part was exactly like how I pictured it was going to be”

Taiwan has been praised worldwide for its response to the coronavirus crisis. The country, which has a population of more than 23 million, has recorded 479 cases of Covid-19 and only seven deaths. In early June, after no new locally transmitted cases were recorded for eight weeks, leading to the lifting of restrictions.

Taipei Arena has announced a number of concerts scheduled for the coming weeks, including Zhan Yawen’s 30th Anniversary Tour and the Folk 45 Summit.

The restart of arena shows comes following the Taiwan ministry of culture’s issuing of 2.1 million electronic cultural vouchers, worth NT$600 (€18) each, for tickets to concerts, art exhibitions and other cultural events, or to buy items at venues or culture-focused shops.

The NT$1.2 billion (€35.3m) programme aims to boost the cultural and arts sector and encourage people to attend cultural events as the Covid-19 situation subsides in Taiwan. The programme is expected to generate an estimated NT$5bn (€146.8m) for the sector.

Chou’s arena shows signal that Taiwan’s live music scene may return to something like normalcy sooner rather than later.


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