TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Travelers leaving Taiwan should not take more than five boxes containing a total of 250 face masks with them, the authorities said Monday (Jan. 27).
The measure, which was not binding, was designed to prevent hoarding of masks amid the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) out of Wuhan and China. Taiwan confirmed its fifth case of the virus Monday.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs imposed restrictions on exports of certain types of masks valid for the period from Jan. 24 to Feb. 23, CNA reported.
As the Lunar New Year holiday was drawing to a close, many Taiwanese business people working in China were preparing to return there, increasing the possibility that face masks would become scarce on the island.
Notifying customs of the amount of face masks passengers were carrying on outbound flights was not legally required, but officials told CNA that they would consider five boxes of 50 masks each “a reasonable amount” for personal usage. Anything more might lead to suspicions that the passenger was planning to set up a trade and make a profit, reports said.
Once the holiday period over Thursday (Jan. 30), new limits might be suggested, according to customs officials.
Daily production of face masks in Taiwan had increased from 790,000 to 930,000, but could surge to 3.9 million after the holidays, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced Monday, adding it would buy up excess stock in the case of overproduction, CNA reported.