FamilyMart to sell surgical masks from Tuesday

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — A total of 20,000 boxes, each containing 50 surgical masks, will be on sale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting Tuesday, Taiwan FamilyMart Co., Ltd. said Sunday.

A 50-mask box will cost NT$249 (US$8.22) 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.

Convenience store chain Hi-Life said it would also start selling masks from Tuesday, although details regarding price and quantity have yet to be announced.

Supermarket chain Carrefour said it would start selling packs of five and seven masks from Monday, with customers limited to one pack each.

The 18,000 packs of masks were previously imported stock, Carrefour said.

Cosmetics chain Poya told CNA that it has 1 million domestically produced masks to sell at its stores, with sales possibly starting as early as June 4.

The masks will be sold in boxes of 50 as well as in small quantities, and both adult masks and children’s masks will be available at NT$5-7 each, said Poya International Co., Ltd.

There will be no limits on the amount of masks a customer can purchase, Poya said.

Other retailers, including COSMED, Simple Mart, A.mart and Uni-President (which operates 7-ELEVEN in Taiwan) all said they are either waiting to see consumer demand or at different stages of the ordering process with domestic manufacturers.

In response to the nation’s first COVID-19 cases in January, Taiwan’s 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 surgical masks, 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 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 sale restrictions are lifted.