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Price Gouging on Essential Items Is Banned in Mass. Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Prices for items like hand sanitizer and face masks have been on the rise as the products get bought out

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Price gouging of essential items like face masks and hand sanitizer during the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts has been prohibited, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.

Her office filed an emergency regulation to prohibit price gouging of essential products and services during the coronavirus public health emergency, Healey said.

The amendment, filed with the secretary of state’s office, takes effect immediately, according to Healey's announcement. It prohibits price gouging of goods and services necessary for public health and safety during a declared statewide or national emergency.

Previously, the only existing regulation under the state’s consumer protection law related to price gouging addressed the sale of gasoline and other petroleum products, Healey said.

“We’ve heard from hospitals and consumers about skyrocketing prices for things like hand sanitizer, face masks, and other essential gear needed to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus and keep our front-line workers safe. That’s unacceptable and illegal,” she said in a statement. 

Her office says people can file complaints of unreasonably high prices of consumer goods online or by calling 617-727-8400.

The president of Massachusetts General Hospital is asking anyone with a 3D printer to start making masks as hospitals need more supplies to deal with the pandemic.

On Thursday, Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter Slavin said he was worried about the short supply of respirators, masks, gowns and gloves.

Earlier this week, Healey joined the attorneys general of New York and California in writing a letter to President Donald Trump to urge him to launch an initiative shifting existing domestic manufacturing capacity to produce personal protective equipment. 

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