Peddling face masks, rubbing alcohol in Taiwan could incur heavy fine

Profiteering from selling protective medical gear in Taiwan can cost a fortune

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Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Selling surgical masks and rubbing alcohol in Taiwan without a permit is punishable with a fine of up to NT$2 million (US$65,600), warned the Taipei City Government, as the country strives to control the distribution of such medical equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the capital’s Department of Legal Affairs (DLA), a crackdown on illegal sales of disease prevention commodities targeting Taipei’s pharmacies, cosmetic shops, and online platforms this month found a number of cases in which the law was breached. Offenses included hoarding and selling restricted goods and profiteering.

Brick-and-mortar retailers and vendors on e-commerce platforms have been found to have peddled face masks and 75 percent alcohol solution — the demand of which has spiked since the Wuhan virus outbreak — at higher prices. Such acts amount to violations of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, Communicable Disease Control Act, Criminal Code, and Fair Trade Act and could incur a maximum fine of NT$2 million, said the DLA.

The public is urged to report to the authorities illegal activities such as mask hoarding, price fixing, and exaggerating the benefits of products used for medical purposes. Visit the Consumer Protection Committee website to learn more, or call the 1950 hotline to report irregularities.