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€150 for a box of face masks and €10 for sanitiser - anger as shops cashing in

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Boxes of 50 face masks were on sale for €150 at Hickey’s

Boxes of 50 face masks were on sale for €150 at Hickey’s

Boxes of 50 face masks were on sale for €150 at Hickey’s

Calls have been made for new laws to prevent price gouging in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak after reports that some shops were charging €3.50 for a face mask and nearly €10 for a small bottle of hand sanitiser.

Outraged consumers shared photos on social media of some pharmacy chains and shops charging huge sums for the in-demand items.

A box of 50 disposable face masks was selling for €150 - or €3 each - at Hickey's late-night pharmacy on O'Connell Street yesterday.

The same shop was also selling individual masks for €3.50 each.

No one from the shop would provide a statement to the Herald.

This week, respected American magazine Wired said that even the €13.28 being charged for a box of 100 disposable surgical masks on Amazon was a rip-off and was "almost four times what it cost only a few weeks ago".

Irish consumers were shocked to see a 90ml bottle of hand sanitiser for sale at the KCR Londis store in Terenure for €9.95 last week.

Regrettable

Hand sanitiser is in short supply around the country as people try to heed health authorities' advice to keep their hands clean.

A Londis spokesperson said it was "a highly regrettable situation which is not in keeping with Londis' core values as a responsible community retailer".

"We would like to assure customers that this issue was isolated to one independently-owned store only, and once the retailer was made aware of the matter on Friday they took immediate action and the price was reduced," they said.

The same product is now selling for €3.95. Efforts to contact the store owner were unsuccessful.

Rise TD Paul Murphy, for Dublin South-West, who posted the examples on Twitter, said Ireland should follow the example of the French finance minister who last week vowed to introduce price controls.

Mr Murphy said hundreds of people were being hit by "profiteering taking place".

He cited the example of one man who contacted him after he paid €50 for 20 face masks, even though the pack was priced at €20.

"We had no choice but to get them because my wife has terminal cancer, so we're being careful," he told Mr Murphy.