South Korea is spending its first weekend since the government on Monday kicked off the face mask-rationing system due to severe shortages caused by the spread of the coronavirus.
Unlike the weekdays, when people can buy face masks depending on the last digit of their birth year, anyone is eligible to make purchases regardless of birth dates on the weekends.
However, people who have already bought the two masks, rationed to each people weekly by the government, will be limited from purchase through the identification-based screening system.
Not all the state-appointed sellers -- pharmacies, post offices and NongHyup Hanaro Mart stores -- will provide the protective wears on Saturday and Sunday. Local post offices, one of the main mask distributors, are closed on the weekends, while only a limited number of pharmacies in each region operate on Sundays.
Drugstores operating on Sundays can be checked at www.pharm114.or.kr run by the Korean Pharmaceutical Association.
Meanwhile, NongHyup Hanaro Mart is selling masks in regions outside Seoul and Gyeonggi Province starting Saturday. Some 1,900 stores nationwide will start mask sales around 2 p.m. that day.
Starting this week, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has supplied around 6 million face masks daily through the designated channels, with around 250 masks allocated at the drugstores and 100 masks at the NongHyup Hanaro Mart stores and the post offices.
The final digits of birth year for those people who can purchase masks on weekdays are as follows: one and six for Mondays (for example, those born in 1971 or 1986 can buy on Mondays), two and seven for Tuesdays, three and eight for Wednesday, four and nine for Thursdays and five and zero for Fridays. Anyone who has missed out on their appointed days can buy on the weekend.
Purchasers must submit an official proof of identification -- resident registration card, driver’s license or passport.
For citizens aged 10 years or younger or 80 years or older, registered family members may buy by submitting identification documents and government-issued household resident registers with the resident numbers displayed.
Further information on the availability of masks through mobile apps, such as “Goodoc” and “Mask Nearby,” and online websites, that show real-time information on the locations and their inventories. Digital maps most prevalently used by South Koreans -- Naver Map and Kakao Map -- also provide similar functions.
By Choi Ji-won (email@example.com)