The Jakarta Post
Around 60,000 surgical masks confiscated from hoarders will be sold to the public, the North Jakarta Police said on Thursday.
North Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Budhi Herdi Susianto said that the masks would be more useful if they were sold to the public rather than kept as evidence, especially given the public’s fears about the spread of COVID-19.
“Doing this means we are bending the rules a little bit here, but it is being done for the good of the people,” Budhi said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
Budhi said that the masks would, under the oversight of the police, be sold by the two people suspected of stockpiling them. The two have been told to sell the masks at regular prices.
“The masks will be sold at Rp 22,000 [US$1.55] for a box of 50 masks,” Budhi said.
He said everybody was welcome to buy the masks, but each buyer was limited to a maximum of 10 boxes.
Previously, the Jakarta Police also seized 350 boxes of face masks during a raid on the residence of a person suspected of stockpiling in Tanjung Duren, Grogol Petamburan, West Jakarta, in the wake of panic buying that hit the capital city on Monday following the announcement of the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Panic buying has prompted a price surge for such items both online and offline in recent days, with a box of face masks now selling for an average of Rp 300,000 (US$21) – a whopping 1,500 percent increase from the original average of Rp 20,000 per box.
In response to the phenomenon, the National Police announced that it would bring those known to have hoarded masks and hand sanitizers to justice.
“We are carrying out an investigation to sniff out any illegal stockpiling,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono said. (gis)