By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter
Residents in South-east London have been warned of rogue traders selling dodgy face masks and hand sanitisers.
Trading standards officers visited two shops last week selling disposable face masks which had been split into separate packages, interfering with the manufacturer’s integrity, according to Greenwich council.
Officers also found a number of “potentially irregular” hand sanitisers for sale.
The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted at new laws being introduced to tackle outlets and individuals hiking prices of much-needed goods during the coronavirus crisis.
The authority said all products were immediately withdrawn.
Accounts of so-called “price gouging” by sellers have been widely reported over the past week, as panic buying has seen shelves stripped day after day of long-life food, cleaning products and toilet paper.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Tory leader said the government should look at introducing new laws to tackle black marketeers profiteering from the unprecedented demand for household cleaning items.
He told the House of Commons: “I think that profiteering is something that we should be looking at from a legislative point of view in this House as has happened before in this country,” he told members.
Greenwich council acknowledged face masks had limited use outside of medical settings and urged the public to continue practising social distancing and good hand washing practice.
“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings,” the authority stated.
“The best defence is to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water, or hand sanitiser if soap and hot water is not available – as well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin.
“Please note that a hand sanitiser must contain more than 60 per cent alcohol to be effective.”