Taiwan poised to relax mask distribution and export restrictions

Manufacturers may soon receive green light on resuming sales of surgical masks

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Children wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they play carnival games at a night market in Taipei.

Children wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they play carnival games at a night market in Taipei. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan may soon ease restrictions it imposed on the purchase and export of masks as the country increases its mask manufacturing capacity to ensure domestic demand is met.

At a daily briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Friday (May 15), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head and Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) hinted that the mask allocation system would be adjusted in the near future to allow for a more flexible distribution of the protective gear, wrote CNA.

Taiwan announced a ban on the export of surgical masks in January as the novel virus broke out in the country, and the ban was later extended through the end of June. An ID-based mask rationing system was implemented in February to ensure fair distribution and prevent price gouging.

As Taiwan ramps up its production of surgical masks, the rationing system will be relaxed, but IDs are still required to purchase masks, said Chen. He added that restrictions on the acquisition and export of the item may be partially removed in the event of a mask glut — a decision to be made by the Ministry of Finance.

New rules are expected to be introduced in the coming weeks. Currently, Taiwanese citizens are allowed to purchase nine surgical masks every two weeks and permitted to ship 30 masks every two months to their relatives overseas.

Taiwan has boosted its mask manufacturing capacity to up to 19 million units a day. Demand for Taiwan-made masks has soared globally as Chinese masks have failed to meet standards, unleashing a wave of complaints.