Taiwan likely to lift ban on mask exports on June 1

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is planning to lift a ban on surgical mask exports on June 1, but the decision will not be finalized until later this week, according to an official with the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Once the CECC has confirmed the volume of face masks it needs to requisition, it will finalize the plan to open up mask exports, likely later in the week, said Deputy Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元), who heads the CECC’s medical response division, on Monday.

At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, face masks were in short supply, and the government had to requisition the entire national mask production to ensure that medical facilities and consumers around the country had access to the product.

Taiwan instituted a rationing system in February that allowed people to buy two masks per week, then three masks per week and then nine masks every two weeks as mask production increased from about 3 million per day to about 18 million per day.

With the supply of masks now sufficient to generally meet basic consumer demand, the government will allow manufacturers to sell whatever they produce beyond amounts requisitioned by the government to buyers at home or overseas, Hsueh said.

Under the new plan, however, the rationing system limiting people to purchases of nine masks every two weeks will remain in place, said Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), deputy chief of the CECC.

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