After a four-month operation, South Korea's mask ration system ended on Sunday as the supply of face masks designed to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic has stabilized.
As prices of protective masks skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 outbreak here, the country introduced the mask rationing scheme in early March in a bid to smooth out high demand, reports Yonhap News Agency.
Purchase of Protective Masks Limited
Under the scheme, citizens were allowed to buy a limited number of protective masks every week at pharmacies for 1,500 won ($1.24). The weekly limit started with two masks and was raised to 10 masks. With the termination of the scheme, citizens will be able to buy an unlimited number of masks at market prices.
Responding to the development, Prime Minister Chung Sye-Kyun: "Thankfully, drugstores were with us over the past 137 days amid the crisis situation. It was a valuable opportunity to realize the public nature of drugstores once again."
Increased Weekly Output of Masks
Demand for masks sharply stabilized recently as the country has successfully flattened the virus curve, while the mask supply has continued to rise, Yonhap News Agency reported citing the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as saying. Weekly outputs of protective masks have reached more than 100 million since the first week of June, according to the agency.
Last month, the government decided to extend the mask rationing scheme, supposed to end on June 30, to July 11 in an effort to help people easily buy masks. In case of an emergency, the government will maintain mask stockpiles large enough to meet a sudden rise in demand.