The Taipei City Government yesterday launched the nation’s first mask vending machines at the Xinyi District Health Center (信義健康中心). People will be able to purchase masks after inserting their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards.
Starting today, people can buy the same number of masks — nine adult masks every 14 days or 10 children’s masks every 14 days — as they would at pharmacies or through the online mask preorder system at the center’s three vending machines.
The Taipei Department of Information Technology said that the pilot project was launched in cooperation with the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA), to enable people to easily buy masks in three simple steps: by inserting their NHI card, choosing the type of mask and paying.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The vending machines would sell limited amounts of masks between 8:30am and 6:30pm on weekdays and 8:30am and 12pm on weekends, the department said, adding that 100 bundles of nine adult masks and 20 bundles of 10 children’s masks would be provided in each vending machine per day.
People can pay with cash, mobile payment services Apple Pay, Google Pay, Line Pay and Jkos Pay, and EasyCard or iCash cards, it added.
At the launch, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that although the number of imported cases of COVID-19 has declined in the past few days and the number of confirmed cases per 1 million is 16 in Taiwan — lower than the global average of 230 — Taiwan must remain vigilant.
“Keeping a safe social distance and wearing a mask are very important measures for us to keep on living a relatively normal life,” Chen said.
The CECC apologizes to people for the impact disease prevention measures have had on their rights or economic benefits, he said, adding that the central and local governments must all cooperate to protect Taiwan.
Chen said that many pharmacies are under a lot of pressure because of having to sell large amounts of masks every day and many people are still lining up for them, so he is glad to see the launch of the vending machines, which would improve efficiency and reduce the risk of exposure to other people.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that very few domestic cases have been reported because most people know to wear a mask for disease prevention, adding that “wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing” are the most important measures that people can take to protect themselves.
As masks are an important disease prevention resource, he supports how the government has controlled mask distribution, but he does not like people lining up for them, so he asked Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) to discuss launching mask vending machines with the NHIA.
The CECC should consider allowing people to buy 18 masks per month if there is enough stock, he added.
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