The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on March 10 that an online ordering mechanism will be added to the name-based rationing system for face masks on March 12. The purpose of this new mechanism is to better ensure even distribution and make it more convenient to obtain face masks for people such as office workers and students who lack the time to go to pharmacies and public health centers.
The government has been working tirelessly with the private sector to develop and test the new mechanism, which serves as an addition to existing distribution channels, i.e., pharmacies contracted by the National Health Insurance Administration and local public health centers. The mechanism will allow people to order at a designated website using their NHI card or Citizen Digital Certificate or through the NHI app.
The CECC further explained that the first round of online orders beginning on March 12 will constitute a trial run, with an estimated seven million face masks (equal to the weekly allotment of 2.33 million people) being made available. Key aspects of the online ordering mechanism are as follows:
1. The first round of online order registration ends on March 18. Restrictions with regard to National ID Cards and Resident Certificates ending in odd or even numbers do not apply.
2. Those who have successfully ordered face masks online will receive a payment notification via text message March 19 with instructions to complete the payment within a specified period of time. (Payment methods include ATM, online banking, and credit card).
3. Those who have successfully ordered and paid for face masks can pick them up at convenience stores from March 26 to April 1 with their NHI card or proof of purchase certificate issued by the online ordering mechanism. (Those picking up face masks for others must present these same documents.) Orders not picked up by April 1 will be canceled.
4. If the number of people ordering face masks online exceeds the anticipated number listed above, lots will be drawn publicly the day after the registration period ends. The distribution of face masks ordered online is not done on a first come, first served basis; there is no need to rush and register online on the first day.
5. Rules for online purchases will be the same as for purchases through existing channels. During the trial period of the online ordering mechanism, only adult face masks will be made available, with each adult being eligible for three face masks every seven days and each mask costing NT$5.
6. Those wishing to order face masks with their NHI card or Citizen Digital Certificate need a computer, internet connection, and card reader.
7. Each online order comes with a NT$7 delivery fee, to be paid by the person submitting the order.
The CECC pointed out that the trial period is for face masks to be distributed in the week from March 26 to April 1. The online ordering mechanism may be adjusted depending on the results of the trial period. People who do not wish to wait for the distribution of face masks ordered online can still purchase face masks at NHI-contracted pharmacies and local public health centers as before.