As more cases of coronavirus are being diagnosed in New York, consumers who need hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes won’t have to worry about being overcharged by stores looking to capitalize on the spreading virus.
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas announced on Monday that hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are temporarily in short supply. Effective March 10, it will be temporarily illegal to drastically increase prices on these items.
The declaration expires in 30 days but can be cancelled or extended by the commissioner.
“We continue to see businesses prey on consumers who are concerned about their health during a time of unique uncertainty and it will not be tolerated,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We are actively educating businesses and consumers that this is unacceptable, and will be investigating complaints of price gouging. We urge consumers who are overcharged on these items to file a complaint with our office.”
On March 5, DCWP Commissioner Salas declared that face masks were short supply. Under this declaration, stores selling face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes cannot excessively increase prices, require the purchase of a minimum quantity of the item, deny consumers equal opportunity to purchase the item or require consumers to purchase another item to get the item in short supply. The DCWP will inspect stores and respond to consumer complaints. Stores that overcharge their customers will be subject to a violation with a $500 fine.
“It is unacceptable for businesses to target New Yorkers who are trying to take necessary precautions to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell. “We will not tolerate price gouging, and I support Commissioner Salas in cracking down on any offender.”
DCWP encourages consumers who are overcharged to file a complaint at nyc.gov/dcwp or by contacting 311.