Vendor faces NT$2 million fine for selling medical face masks

09/13/2020 08:56 PM
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Kaohsiung, Sept. 13 (CNA) A motorcycle and scooter store in Kaohsiung has been found selling medical-grade face masks in violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and could face a fine of up to NT$2 million (US$68,164), the city government said in a statement Sunday.

Only licensed pharmacies are allowed to sell medical-grade masks, while vendors at night markets, hardware stores and online stores are prohibited from selling such products, according to Huang Chih-chung (黃志中), director of the city's Public Health Bureau.

The city government started random checks of night market vendors, grocery stores and hardware stores among others on Friday, Huang said.

As of Sunday noon, of the 667 outlets checked, one motorcycle and scooter store was found of to be selling medical-grade face masks by displaying them in front of the store, according to the statement.

According to a photo provided by the public health bureau, a poster showing "Medical-grade face masks made in Taiwan. NT$340 a package for adults. NT$430 a package for children" is posted at the store.

After learning of the stiff fine, the store operator said he was merely doing business and did not know selling medical-grade masks is illegal.

Kaohsiung City government reminded locals that in addition to buying surgical face masks through the government's face mask rationing program, they can also purchase masks at national health insurance (NHI)-contracted pharmacies and drug stores.

However, buyers should always check that important information such as consulting service hotline number, product license number and supplier address are provided, it added.

The government began requisitioning all domestically produced surgical masks on Jan. 31 and implemented a rationing program on Feb. 6.

On June 1, the government announced it was lifting the ban on the export of masks.

While consumers can now buy unlimited numbers of masks on the open market, the option of obtaining nine masks per fortnight at a controlled price still remains for those who hold NHI cards.

(By Hou Wen-ting and Evelyn Kao)

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