Taipei, Feb. 14 (CNA) A Taiwanese man was caught on Friday carrying over 2,000 face masks, way beyond the legal limit, as he tried to board a flight to Shanghai, according to the Customs Administration.
The arrest came at a time when Taiwan has imposed a ban on mask exports and restrictions on the number of masks individual travelers can carry overseas, to ensure a sufficient domestic supply amid the novel coronavirus scare.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs's (MOEA's) ban, face mask exports, including through postal packages and door-to-door deliveries, are forbidden from Jan. 24 to April 30, unless exporters secure prior authorization from the MOEA's Bureau of Foreign Trade.
Individual travelers, meanwhile, are forbidden from carrying more than 250 masks out of Taiwan, as a part of the ban.
The Taiwanese man arrested on Friday was about to board a plane bound for Shanghai at the Taoyuan International Airport when he was caught carrying a total of 2,209 masks, 1,959 masks beyond the limit.
The number of masks he tried to take out of Taiwan was the largest since the limitations were imposed in January, Customs officials said.
They said the man, an investor in China, was found carrying the masks when his luggage was scanned through an X-ray machine as he checked in at the counter of an airline.
When he later went through a security inspection in the immigration section of the airport, he was then found carrying more masks in his carry-on luggage.
Following the two inspections, he was found to be carrying a total of 2,209 face masks in about 44 parcels.
According to the Customs Administration, since Jan. 24, they've handled a total of 657 cases involving people violating the export ban and exceeding the ceiling for the number of masks individual travelers can take out of Taiwan.
In these cases, Customs officials confiscated 148,733 face masks, including 127,928 in postal packages, 2,906 via door-to-door deliveries, 3,474 through cargos, and 14,425 that individual travelers had attempted to take abroad.