As co-organizers of the 28th Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), the Ministry of Culture and the Taipei Book Fair Foundation have cancelled the annual book fair amid the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Originally scheduled to be held Feb. 4-9 at Taipei World Trade Center, the event was postponed to May 7-12 in a Jan. 30 announcement due to the accelerated global spread of COVID-19. A task force was then established by the Ministry and the foundation to make the necessary operational adjustments and mitigate the impact of rescheduling, while keeping an eye on the latest advisory information from Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Given how the annual event hosts nearly 600,000 attendees and exhibitors from an average of 50 countries each year, TIBE meets the criteria for observing the guidelines for large-scale public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak issued by CECC.
In addition, based on a risk assessment conducted by the task force, the event is categorized as a large-scale indoor activity with a high risk of viral transmission, meaning it would be extremely hard to fully implement the epidemic prevention measures as the fair would attract a large number of travelers and there would be close contact between all visitors.
Meanwhile, due to the escalating coronavirus crisis, Taiwan has issued its highest "Level 3" travel warning for 43 countries and regions, including South Korea, the fair's theme nation this year. Under the warning, travelers arriving from those 43 destinations will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. March 19 update: Non-nationals or non-residents may no longer enter Taiwan, and all incoming passengers are required to be quarantined for 14 days.
With invited exhibitors and authors facing travel restrictions, the copyright negotiations, reading activities, book meets, and sales of participating vendors and publishing houses are all bound to be affected. Furthermore, as several international publishers and invited authors have already canceled their visit to Taiwan, the quality of the event would fall short of what is expected.
In addition, if further postponements were made, the fair would overlap with other international book expos in the latter half of 2020. The rescheduling would also cut short the time needed for next year's book fair arrangements. Taking all this into consideration, the Ministry and the foundation have reached the conclusion of cancelling the event this year in favor of preparing for the 2021 edition.
Following the cancellation, booth and rental fees will be fully refunded by the foundation, while all those who apply before May 31 will be refunded the full admission price through the platforms and channels that they've purchased the tickets from, without additional charge.
In addition, Taiwanese publishers and bookstore owners who have suffered operational difficulties are eligible for aid, subsidies, and loans in accordance with the Ministry of Culture's relief and revitalization measures for the cultural and arts sectors that were announced on March 12.
Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun said while the Ministry is prioritizing public health, it is also devising different strategies to promote reading and encourage people to buy more books amid the global coronavirus outbreak.
Please contact Chun Hsu (email@example.com) or Michelle Tu (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further assistance or clarification regarding the book fair cancellation measures.
Read the original press release here.