Masks yesterday returned to the open market as the government began relaxing its rationing program.
President Chain Store, which operates the 7-Eleven convenience store chain in Taiwan, said that from 3pm yesterday until Saturday, people can preorder boxes of 50 masks at its outlets that have a license to sell pharmaceutical products.
Most of its locations already have this license, it said.
Although a box of 50 masks costs NT$250, people who pay with iCash 2.0, iCash Pay or the Open Point app would receive a 5 percent discount, it said.
An initial batch of 25,000 boxes is available for preorder and customers would be able to pick them up from Saturday, it said, adding that it would not limit the amount people can order.
OK Mart, another major convenience store chain, said that people who have added the store to their Line app can preorder masks as of yesterday and pick them up from Friday.
Each order consists of five masks for NT$25 and people can choose between adult and children’s masks, it said.
The chain said it also plans to sell single masks from tomorrow, although it is still negotiating prices with manufacturers.
Convenience store chain Hi-Life said that from today, it would sell boxes of 50 masks for NT$299 per box.
Only 20,000 boxes are available in the first batch, it said.
FamilyMart on Sunday said that today it would also start selling 20,000 boxes of 50 masks for NT$299 each.
People with FamilyMart memberships would pay NT$249, it said, adding that it would not limit how many boxes a person could purchase.
In response to the nation’s first COVID-19 cases in January, the government began requisitioning domestic mask production on Jan. 31 before launching a rationing through the National Health Insurance system on Feb. 6.
In the months since, daily production capacity has increased from 1.88 million masks to about 20 million, allowing the government to relax the requisition order from yesterday.
The government would continue to receive 8 million masks daily, while lifting sale and export restrictions on the remaining 60 percent of capacity.
In the event that people have difficulty buying masks on the open market, they would still be able to purchase nine adult masks or 10 children’s masks every two weeks through the government supply system, even after sales restrictions are lifted.
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