DTI eases purchase limits for masks, food, alcohol as supply improves

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 24) – Shoppers can now buy canned goods, disinfectants, and face masks in bigger quantities.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday that purchase limits for essential items have been lifted after more than three months as inventories normalize.

"Now, we have an abundant supply of masks. That's the reason why just recently, about two days ago, we are removing these limits in purchases," he said during the virtual Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum. 

From a limit of five pieces per transaction, people can now buy a box containing 50 face masks. Meanwhile, purchase limits for food like instant noodles and other essential items have been removed, Lopez added.

The DTI imposed rules against the hoarding of supplies at the onset of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. Caps on individual purchases were also meant to protect consumers against people who will hoard these products and resell at a higher price.

RELATED: Complaints vs online sellers rise faster amid pandemic, says DTI

The agency's anti-panic buying circular dated March 19 covered disinfectant alcohol, hand sanitizers, bath soap, toilet paper, face masks, instant noodles, canned sardines, canned and powdered milk, instant coffee sachets, mineral water, and loaf bread.

DTI has encouraged local factories to shift a portion of their production facilities to churn out face masks, ventilators, and personal protective equipment to meet the strong demand from hospitals and similar facilities handling COVID-19 testing and patient care in the face of a global shortage.

"At the height of the pandemic, even other countries are not even supplying our requirements, they have imposed import restrictions," the official added.

Last week, a group of grocery owners called the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association said they were open to removing these purchase restrictions amid improving supply. The restrictions are enforced by cashiers at checkout counters, who inform customers that they cannot buy big amounts of covered products.