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Non-quarantining concertgoers fined in Covid-free Taiwan

Seven people who attended attended a stadium concert on new year’s eve instead of self-isolating have been fined by Taiwanese authorities for endangering public health.

The concertgoers – who had been ordered to observe ‘self-health management’ (ie self-isolate/quarantine) after coming into contact with someone infected with Covid-19 – went to see veteran Mandopop band Mayday perform at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium near Taipei on 31 December.

Over 22,000 people attended the show, according to Taiwan News, part-way through which “news broke out that several individuals who were supposed to be following self-health management protocols were in the crowd”.

The seven were caught out by Taiwan’s mobile phone-based contact tracing system, dubbed “Skynet”

Taiwan’s Central News Agency reports that the potentially infected septet were caught out by the country’s mobile phone-based contact tracing system, dubbed “Skynet”, which clocked them just half an hour after they left their houses.

Three of the Mayday fans, who were supposed to be quarantining for another three days, were each fined NT$70,000 (US$2,460), while the other four, who each had one day to go, received fines of NT$30,000 (US$1,070).

Taiwan, which is home to nearly 24m people, on 22 December recorded its first domestic case of Covid-19 in over 250 days. The island country was the first to return to hosting full-capacity major events, with arena shows restarting in August.

 


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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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Rapid sell-out for Asia’s first post-Covid arena shows

Tickets for a series of four concerts featuring Taiwanese artist Eric Chou have sold out in a quarter of an hour, indicating demand is high for the region’s first arena shows since coronavirus restrictions began.

Chou is scheduled to perform on 8 and 9 August at the 15,350-capacity Taipei Arena and on 5 and 6 September at the 15,000-capacity Kaohsiung Arena, with tickets for all four Taiwan shows selling out in just 15 minutes after going on sale this weekend.

In Taiwan, the 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 concerts are the first to be held at the venues since coronavirus restrictions were put in place early this year.

A named ticket system is in place to facilitate track and trace at the shows, with fans asked to fill in their name and contact number on the ticket upon purchase, or just before entering the venue in the case of ticket transfers.

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.

Tickets for a series of four concerts featuring Taiwanese artist Eric Chou have sold out in a quarter of an hour

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.

Taiwan has been praised worldwide for its response to the coronavirus crisis. The country, which has a population of 23.78 million, has reported 455 cases of the virus and seven deaths.

Elsewhere in northeast Asia, Japan gave the go-ahead for 5,000-person indoor concerts earlier this month, although plans to remove an upper capacity limit at events altogether from 1 August may be halted due to a recent rise in infections.

Creativeman’s Supersonic festival – a replacement of its usual Summer Sonic event – is still scheduled to go ahead from 19 to 21 September in Tokyo and 19 to 20 September in Osaka, featuring acts including the 1975, Post Malone, Wu-Tang Clan, Liam Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Black Eyed Peas, Kygo and Steve Aoki.

In South Korea, a recent spike in new cases in Seoul and neighbouring cities is hindering the resumption of large-scale events.

This week, a ban on events of over 5,000 people was put in place in the Sonpa district of Seoul, leading to the postponement of upcoming shows at the 15,000-capacity Olympic Gymnastics Arena, or KSPO Dome. Around 5,200 fans were expect to attend each of the 15 concerts planned for the arena in the next three weeks.

Photo: Gene Wang/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Further Asian expansion for Sony’s Zepp venues

Zepp Hall Network, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, has revealed plans for two more mid-sized venues outside Japan.

Joining Zepp Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia – announced in February as the company’s first non-Japanese venue – are Zepp@BIGBOX Singapore, a 2,333-capacity venue jointly operated with Singapore’s Big Box Investment, and Zepp New Taipei, a 2,200-cap. space across four floors in a new development in the Taipei suburb of Hsinchuang Futuhsin.

Zepp@BIGBOX will open first, on 4 June with a show by J-rock band Radwimps, with Zepp New Taipei following in April 2020 and Zepp Kuala Lumpur at the tail end of the same year.

“Zepp’s expansion in Asia will … create touring opportunities for Japanese and international artists”

Funding for the new venues – all of which will feature “stage machinery, lighting and sound systems with specifications standardised for all Zepp venues across the globe”, giving “an advantage to tour promoters and touring artists alike” – is covered partially by the Japanese government’s Cool Japan fund.

The latest round of expansion, says Zepp, “will blaze a trail for the Japanese music industry while creating touring opportunities for Japanese and international artists”. “Our hope is to bring people around the world together and provide the grounds for cultural exchange by building the infrastructure,” it adds in a statement.

Zepp Hall Network manages six venues in Japan – Zepp Sapporo, Zepp Tokyo and Zepp DiverCity in Tokyo, Zepp Nagoya, Zepp Namba in Osaka and the newly opened Zepp Osaka Bayside, with new venues opened in Fukuoka in 2018 and Yokohama in 2020.

 


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