Price curbs for masks as cases climb

Price curbs for masks as cases climb

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has ordered restrictions on the price of surgical masks across the country, after a surge in Covid-19 cases was linked to a shrimp wholesaler in Samut Sakhon on Saturday.

Mallika Boonmeetrakool Mahasook, adviser to the commerce minister, said at a press briefing yesterday that provincial commerce and internal trade offices have been ordered to monitor the price of surgical masks in their area and enforce price control measures ordered by the Commerce Ministry.

Surgical masks will now have to be sold at less than 2.5 baht apiece, she said, adding sellers found overcharging or refusing to sell at the mandated price range face up to seven years' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 140,000 baht.

Exports of face masks have also been halted, she said.

Members of the public are encouraged to report non-compliant vendors through the Commerce Ministry's hotline at 1569.

Ms Mallika went on to allay fears of a mask shortage, which emerged after over nearly 700 new cases were found in and around Samut Sakhon on Saturday, prompting a local lockdown in the province.

The Department of Internal Trade said factories are churning out masks and stocks are currently abundant, so the public has no need to worry.

Mr Jurin is monitoring mask supplies to prevent a shortage, she said, adding that stocks of hand-sanitising gels and alcohol-based disinfectants are also abundant.

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