The Fukui Prefectural Government said Sunday it would distribute coupons granting the right to purchase face masks to all households in the prefecture, in response to shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the coupons, residents will be entitled to buy two 50-mask packs at drugstores in the prefecture. Each pack sells for ¥2,350 including tax.

Fukui is believed to be the first prefecture in the nation to arrange face mask purchases for residents, prefectural officials said.

The prefectural government will send the coupons by mail from Thursday. All households in the prefecture, totaling about 290,000, are expected to receive the coupons by the end of April.

Fujikon Corp., a company based in the city of Sabae in the prefecture, and other companies outside the prefecture have secured a total of some 300,000 packs of face masks.

Genky, a drugstore chain operator based in the Fukui Prefecture city of Sakai, will sell the face masks at its 64 outlets across the prefecture from April 24 to May 10. If the stores run short of face masks, they will secure additional supplies.

The prefectural government has already distributed stockpiled face masks, giving preferential consideration to medical institutions. The government also enlisted the help of businesses to arrange purchases in order to address the mask shortage for residents.

In the prefecture, as elsewhere, people have flocked to supermarkets and other retailers to buy face masks, often forming long lines.

Fukui Gov. Tatsuji Sugimoto said on a television program on Sunday, “You don’t have to make haste as we have secured a sufficient amount of face masks. We definitely want you to buy them.”


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