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Convenience stores in Taiwan begin selling unrationed surgical masks

ROC Central News Agency

06/01/2020 04:48 PM

Taipei, June 1 (CNA) Major convenience store chains in Taiwan announced recently that they would be selling or allowing customers to pre-order surgical masks at their stores this week.

President Chain Store Corp., which operates the 7-ELEVEN store chain in Taiwan, said that from 3 p.m. on Monday until June 6, consumers will be able to pre-order boxes of 50 surgical masks each at 7-ELEVEN stores that have a license to sell pharmaceutical products.

Most locations already have this license, the company said.

A box of 50 masks will cost NT$250 (US$8.3), but those who pay with icash 2.0, icash Pay or the Open Point app will receive a 5 percent discount.

An initial batch of 25,000 boxes of masks will be available for pre-order and customers will be able to pick them up from June 6, President Chain Store said.

There are no limits as to how many boxes each customer can purchase, the company said.

OK Mart, another major convenience store chain, said that consumers who have added the store to their Line app can pre-order masks from Monday and pick them up from Friday .

Each order will consist of five masks and will cost NT$25 and consumers can choose between adult masks and children's masks, OK Mart said.

The chain is also planning to sell packets of one mask each from Wednesday, although it is still negotiating with manufacturers over prices, it said.

Another convenience store chain, Hi-Life, said that from Tuesday, consumers can purchase boxes of 50 surgical masks in their stores at NT$299 per box.

Only 20,000 boxes will be available in the first batch, the chain said.

FamilyMart said Sunday that a total of 20,000 boxes, each containing 50 surgical masks, will be on sale at its stores starting Tuesday.

A 50-mask box will cost NT$249 for those with FamilyMart membership and NT$299 for everyone else, with no limits placed on how many boxes a customer can buy, the company said.

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 system through the National Health Insurance program on Feb. 6.

In the months since then, daily production capacity has been ramped up from 1.88 million to around 20 million masks per day, allowing the requisition order to be relaxed from June 1.

Under the policy, the government will continue to receive 8 million masks per day, 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 will 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.

(By Yang Shu-ching and Chiang Yi-ching)

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