COVID-19: Centre caps prices of masks, hand sanitisers

COVID-19: Centre caps prices of masks, hand sanitisers

Passengers wearing masks in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, at Sealdah railway station in Kolkata, Saturday, March 21, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The Centre on Saturday capped the prices of 2-ply and 3-ply face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitisers as the products continued to sell at exorbitant prices with people making beelines to purchase protective gear amid the Covid-19 spread in several parts of the country.

In a notification issued on Saturday, the Centre fixed the price of 2-ply masks at Rs 8 and 3-ply masks at Rs 10, while a 200 ml hand sanitiser bottle would cost no more than Rs 100.

In a bid to ensure adequate availability of face masks and hand sanitisers, the Centre has permitted deodorant manufacturers to produce sanitisers without seeking any prior permissions.

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“Deodorant manufacturers can start manufacturing sanitisers,” Pawan Kumar Aggarwal, Secretary Conusmer Affairs Ministry, told reporters here.

He said that alcohol industry has been directed to make available different varieties of alcohols used in the manufacture of sanitisers to ramp up production.

Additionally, distilleries have also been granted permission to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitisers to ensure its adequate availability as the nation tackles the Covid-19 outbreak.

Last week, the government had brought masks and hand sanitisers under Essential Commodities Act (ECA) up to June 30, 2020, to ensure availability of these items in market at correct price in view of the outbreak of Coronavirus.

“Keeping in view that surgical masks, N95 masks and hand sanitisers are being available at great difficulty or at exorbitant prices, the government has declared these items as essential commodities by amending the Schedule of the Essential Commodities Act 1955,” an official from the Consumer Affairs Ministry had said.

The decision to invoke ECA would empower the states to regulate production, quality and distribution of masks and hand sanitisers.

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