The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced that it sued Metro Drugs in Manhattan for violating New York City's price gouging rules. The DCWP alleged that the retailer sold face masks at drastically increased prices -- as high as $200 for 20 masks.
The DCWP also said that this is the first of several cases that the agency plans to bring against retailers that repeatedly engage in price gouging. DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas said, "We will prosecute businesses using this public health crisis to take advantage of New Yorkers who are concerned for their health and we urge consumers to file a complaint if they are overcharged."
Earlier this month, the DCWP issued an emergency rule that makes price gouging illegal on any personal or household good or service that is needed to prevent or limit the spread of or treat the coronavirus. The rule makes it illegal to increase prices by 10% or more on products such as disinfectants, soap, other cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, medicines, and tissues.
The DCWP said that it is actively inspecting stores based on consumer complaints and that it has already issued more than 1000 violations for price gouging.
"Any company who tries to take advantage of New Yorkers during this crisis will have their feet held to the fire" -- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio