The South Korean government has decided to restrict the export of face masks until April 30, amid concerns that supplies are running short as COVID-19 spreads nationwide.
Manufacturers will be allowed to export up to 10 percent of the masks they produce each day.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Tuesday that the measure is authorized under Article 6 of the Price Stabilization Act, which stipulates that regulations can be adjusted in emergency situations.
Mask manufacturers will also be required to release at least 50 percent of their daily output to state-run or public retailers such as Korea Post and Nonghyup.
“There have been setbacks in supplying masks to citizens recently despite a twofold increase in production of masks daily to 11 million masks per day,” said Minister of Food and Drug Safety Lee Eui-kyung during a press briefing Tuesday.
“We would like to limit the amount of masks for export, in order to meet the demand in the local market,” she added.
Also, those who manufacture and sell at least 10,000 surgical masks per day are now required to report their prices, the number of masks sold and their distributors’ details to the ministry.
This is to make sure that medical personnel are provided with masks and protection gear, the ministry said.
Currently, the government has only obligated those who manufacture sanitation masks and hand sanitizers to report their production and sales data to the authorities.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org)