Cosmetic chains to begin selling surgical masks this week

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Healthcare and cosmetic chains in Taiwan will begin selling unrationed surgical masks at their stores this week, with prices averaging anywhere between NT$5 to NT$15 per piece.

Watsons, which operates some 550 stores in Taiwan, said Monday that their masks could be available nationwide starting Wednesday at the earliest, where they will be sold in plastic packaging and in boxes of 50.

According to the company, a 50-mask box is priced at NT$269 (US$8.98), which equals about NT$5.38 per piece.

Masks in smaller quantities, available for both children and adults, will also be sold in packages priced between NT$35 and NT$50, it said, adding that each customer will only be allowed to buy one package or one box at a time.

Poya, another major cosmetic chain, said it has about 1 million domestically made masks on order, which are expected to arrive in local stores from Thursday.

However, the first few batches will be for adults and will be sold in boxes of 50 priced at NT$299, Poya said, noting that each piece will cost about NT$6.

Pre-orders are currently not accepted, the company said.

COSMED, meanwhile, expects their orders of face masks to arrive on store shelves sometime this week.

Each piece will average between NT$5 and NT$15 and will also be sold in the form of packages and boxes, the company said.

Meanwhile, hypermart chains Carrefour and A.mart started selling unrationed surgical masks to the public on Monday.

French operator Carrefour said it still has about 120,000 imported surgical masks left in stock, and began putting 18,000 on its shelves that day.

The items are sold in quantities of five or seven per package, with each mask costing between NT$9.85 and NT$15.8 on average.

A.mart, meanwhile, began selling adult face masks in boxes of 50, with each unit costing NT$299.

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 sales and export restrictions on the remaining 60 percent of capacity.