Vending machines at the Xinyi District Health Center (信義健康中心) are to continue to sell masks on Sundays, even if pharmacies and local health centers no longer sell them on that day, the Taipei Department of Health said yesterday.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday announced that starting today, government-requisitioned masks are not to be distributed to pharmacies and local health centers on Sundays so that their staff can rest one day per week.
The city’s 11 district health centers are to stop selling masks on Sundays, but people can still buy them from the Xinyi District Health Center’s vending machines on Sunday mornings, the department said in a statement about the policy.
Photo: Sam Yeh, AFP
The vending machines are available to the public from 8:30am to 6:30pm on weekdays and 8:30am to 12pm on weekends, it said.
At the vending machines, people must insert their National Health Insurance card — as long as it has not been used to buy masks for two weeks — and then pay with cash, or a mobile payment service, the department added.
The Taipei City Government, in cooperation with the CECC and the National Health Insurance Administration, launched the nation’s first mask vending machines at the Xinyi District Health Center on April 11.
The vending machines are efficient and spare people from the long lines at pharmacies, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said, adding that machines should be installed at all 12 of the city’s district health centers within a week.
However, on April 12 — the first day — people began lining up as early as two hours before the vending machines became available, and city councilors questioned whether the machines were more efficient, as health center workers had to instruct people on how to use them.
A total of 4,614 batches, or 41,526 masks, were sold from the center’s three vending machines from April 11 to Thursday, the Taipei Department of Information Technology said yesterday.
Most people used the machines on weekday afternoons and bought masks without waiting — the fastest time for buying two batches was 30 seconds, while one-and-a-half minutes was the slowest, it added.
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