Taiwan customs officials confiscate over 3,000 face masks from Polish passengers

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Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. 

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Taiwan's airport officials confiscated 3,446 surgical face masks from two Polish passengers last Sunday, the largest single seizure in the country by air travelers since export restrictions were placed on face masks due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Customs Administration said Tuesday.

The travelers were Polish nationals, who flew from the United States and transited through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TTIA) on their way to Shanghai, China. According to a customs official, there are two ways to transit through the airport. One is to simply remain in the airport's transit area during a stopover to connect to your final destination, or enter immigration, claim your baggage, and then check-in again at an airline counter to board the next flight.

The two Polish nationals chose the latter option, which subjected them to the face mask ban in Taiwan, the official said, noting that the men would have been exempted from this rule if they had chosen to have their luggage bonded by filling out a form at the customs counter after baggage claim.

In view of the COVID-19 epidemic and to ensure sufficient domestic supply, face mask exports, including those sent through the post are forbidden from Jan. 24 to April 30, unless exporters secure prior authorization from the MOEA's Bureau of Foreign Trade. Meanwhile, individual travelers are forbidden from carrying more than 250 masks out of Taiwan.

The Polish passengers were found to be carrying a total of 3,946 face masks which were confiscated, though 500 were returned the same day, the official said. According to the Customs Administration, the seized face masks will be redistributed for use in the government's efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.