Friday, March 20, 2020
AG HEALEY ISSUES EMERGENCY REGULATION PROHIBITING PRICE GOUGING OF CRITICAL GOODS AND SERVICES DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY
BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has filed an emergency regulation to prohibit price gouging of essential products and services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The amendment to regulation 940 CMR 3:18, filed today with the Secretary of State’s Office and effective immediately, prohibits price gouging of goods and services necessary for public health and safety during a declared statewide or national emergency. Previously under the state’s consumer protection law, the only existing regulation related to price gouging addressed the sale of gasoline and other petroleum products.
“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,” said AG Healey. “We issued this emergency regulation because no one should be exploiting this crisis and putting the public at risk.”
There have been widespread reports of inflated prices for goods like hand sanitizer, face masks, and gloves as well as temporary personnel in response to the growing demand for such products and services due to the spread of COVID-19. Shortages have been reported across the country, placing a critical strain on members of the public as well as hospitals and medical facilities that rely on these essential products to protect their medical workers from infection and prevent the spread of disease.
Because the COVID-19 epidemic continues to escalate at an alarming rate, the AG’s Office has prioritized measures to ensure the availability of necessary goods and services, including personal protective equipment for medical professionals. In a letter to President Trump sent earlier this week, AG Healey joined New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in calling on the federal government to mobilize the business community to address the shortage of personal protective equipment like masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves. The attorneys general wrote that without this essential equipment, the doctors, nurses and others on the front lines risk infection and further spread of this highly contagious virus.
The AG’s Consumer Protection Division encourages members of the public to call 617-727-8400 or file a complaint online about unreasonably high prices of consumer goods during this public health emergency. Visit the AG’s Office COVID-19 resources page for information about how the office can assist the public during this emergency.