On November 14, Road to Ultra took place in Taiwan. No social distancing was needed, or any precautions. It sounds extremely unlikely and unreal for that to be the case in 2020, where most of the world is still battling against the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, but its true. How?
Taiwan has been Covid-free for over seven months now. With only seven deaths and 550 cases in total between a population of 23 million people who inhabit the island, the way that the government handled the virus is truly admirable. Closing borders early, restricting public transport, evenly distributing masks to everyone and having a strict pandemic protocol is what made the island recover so quickly, and this meant that large-scale events were deemed safe again.
A note from abroad: Realizing now that I've been 5 days out of US that many folks back home don't realize how other countries might be living with the 'Rona. Here is what it was like to come to Taiwan. I think we could maybe learn a coupla things...
Upon our plane touching down in TPE, we were immediately placed in two lines: one for folks with a working intl cell phone, one for the rest of us (to buy a very affordable local SIM card.) The government is then able to track us while we are in the country
Once through immigration and baggage, we are required to take govt-approved covid-safe cars to our quarantine hotels. (If you are a local, you can self-isolate at home.) No leaving your room (or home) for 15 days. Not for walks- nothing.
At the hotel: meals are left outside your door three times a day. There is no contact with anyone. Every day, you get a call from the health department asking if you have any symptoms. If so, they will immediately rush you to the hospital for care.
As a sidebar, I have discovered that I am weirdly okay having all my daily living decisions made for me. Have not yet gone crazy confined within four walls. Perhaps I would have made a good housepet.
Never mind about domesticity, after 15 days, you are free to go. For 7 more days, you are required to check your temperature every morning (they actually gift you a thermometer) and someone calls every day to make sure you're okay.
Because most local citizens have voluntarily signed up for contact tracing (and all of us foreigners are required to opt-in) should a case break out, anyone who was in significant contact would be notified, then required to self-isolate for a number of days.
At any point, if you break quarantine - which they can tell by the movements of your phone - you could be fined 10-30k. They are quite serious on this point. Then again, they haven't had a case in 200 days. And everyone has been living their lives freely since February.
A note on contact tracing: I'm no expert, and historically a proponent of privacy, but if you have a credit card, or downloaded any number of apps, it seems "they" already have your info. So in a gosh-darn pandemic: sign up for contact tracing!
Again, not an expert. But again: EVERYONE IN TAIWAN HAS BEEN LIVING THEIR LIVES FREELY SINCE FEBRUARY! I mean yes, people voluntarily wear masks in public places, but otherwise, restaurants, subways, etc are packed. So....
I guess this could have been our lives too? Food for thought...