Shops across London have been selling masks and sanitiser (Photo: Duncan C via Creative Commons)

Greenwich Council has warned of rogue traders selling face masks and hand sanitisers during the coronavirus crisis – and reminded residents that there is no evidence that masks will protect from Covid-19.

Trading standards officers visited two shops last week selling disposable face masks which had been split into separate packages, interfering with the product’s integrity, according to the council. Officers also found a number of “potentially irregular” hand sanitisers for sale.

The council said all the products were immediately withdrawn from sale.

A spokesperson said the masks had limited use outside of medical settings and urged the public to continue keeping two metres apart from each other and to keep washing their hands thoroughly.

“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 spokesperson said.

“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.”

Residents with concerns about local retailers in Greenwich borough should email tradingstandards[at], while concerns about national retailers should be reported to the Competition and Markets Authority.

With many traders hiking prices of hand sanitisers and other cleaning products to cash in on the epidemic, the prime minister said yesterday that there may be legislation to tackle the price gougers.

During prime minister’s questions, he said: “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.”


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Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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