COVID-19

Taiwan is “disturbingly normal,” but not immune to pandemic

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry May 8, 2020
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People divided by plastic partitions, amid concerns of COVID-19, eat their food at Q Square in Xindian district, New Taipei City. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Taiwan is “disturbingly normal,” but not immune to pandemic

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry May 8, 2020
Heard on:
People divided by plastic partitions, amid concerns of COVID-19, eat their food at Q Square in Xindian district, New Taipei City. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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In Taiwan, many restaurants and stores are still open for business.

“I describe it as disturbingly normal,” said Arvin Chen, an American-born filmmaker who now lives in Taiwan. “Besides people wearing face masks and occasional temperature checks when you walk into certain restaurants, it’s pretty much life as normal. Which is, again, disturbing, but I guess slightly comforting.”

According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker, Taiwan has one of the lowest coronavirus-related death counts in world and appears to have effectively limited the spread of the disease. Aggressive contact tracking and closed borders may be part of the reason.

But that doesn’t mean the economy is completely up and running. Chen, a filmmaker, hasn’t been able to shoot since the start of the crisis.

“I was supposed to shoot a movie here in April, and that’s not happening anytime soon,” Chen said in an interview with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal.

“We do shoot in like actual locations, meaning we need to rent out restaurants and hotels and hospitals,” Chen said. “I think people are still very wary of 50 to 100 crew members coming into locations.”

Travel and filming may be frozen, but Chen isn’t out of work.

“I also do some work in LA as a writer,” he said. “In a weird way, it hasn’t stopped. And it’s probably even picked up a little bit more because all you can do right now is development, right?”

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

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