• Reuters

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Taiwan raised its coronavirus alert level on Saturday in Taipei and the city around it, bringing curbs for a period of two weeks that will shut many venues and restrict gatherings in the wake of 180 new domestic infections.

The new rules will not mean offices, schools or restaurants have to close, but will cause the shutdown of cinemas and other entertainment spots, while limiting family get-togethers to five people indoors and 10 outdoors.

Taipei’s government has already ordered bars, nightclubs and similar venues to shut.

Since the pandemic began, Taiwan has reported fewer than 1,500 cases out of a population of about 24 million, most of them imported from abroad, but a recent rise in community transmissions has spooked residents.

The island has never gone into a full lockdown and its people are used to life carrying on near normal, despite the pandemic raging in many other parts of the world.

Late on Friday, several universities, including the elite National Taiwan University, said they would immediately switch to remote learning, telling students to stay away from campuses.

“As COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc, please be reminded to wear a mask at all times when you go out, wash hands frequently, and keep appropriate social distancing,” National Taiwan University said in a statement.

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, outside which people have queued for a hugely popular exhibition by Japanese artist Shiota Chiharu that opened this month, said it would close from Saturday to comply with the city’s prevention rules.

“The re-opening date will be announced according to the epidemic situation and city regulations,” it said.

Taipei’s National Palace Museum, home to one of the world’s best and most extensive collections of Chinese art, said it too would close from Saturday.

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