Updated | Pharmacists lift directive not to sell face masks

Compensation package will make up for any losses incurred due to wholesale purchases

Disposable surgical face masks have been capped at 95c
Disposable surgical face masks have been capped at 95c

A directive issued by the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists advising pharmacies to not sell surgical masks and visors has been lifted, after a compromise was reached.

The Chamber had advised pharmacies not to sell surgical masks and visors in response to the government’s announcement that prices will be capped.

The decision to cap prices was communicated on Sunday evening by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri and comes into force today when it becomes obligatory to wear a mask while shopping.

Schembri said the price order will cap the prices of disposable surgical face masks at 95c and that of face shields at €5.

The compensation package agreed on Monday afternoon will make up for any losses that pharmacy owners may incur due to wholesale purchases made by them at prices that would not allow them to sell at the new announced price.

The economy minister also assured the chamber that a revision of VAT rates on Personal Protective Equipment will be carried out, “in order to further make the price of these items lower to the general public.”

In the comment section of Schembri's post on Facebook the chamber said that it was not consulted on the legal notice regarding the capped prices to the public. "We are looking into the matter urgently; however in the interim, the best professional approach is not to retail surgical masks and visors until further developments and a full clarification of the matter,” it said.

However, Schembri said that the decision to cap the price of masks was taken after consultation with the consumer affairs authority, the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of SMEs.

A pharmacist also told MaltaToday that the prices of masks and visors were fixed by the wholesalers and that it was illegal to sell at a loss. 

READ MORE: Prices for surgical face masks and shields capped by government

Other retailers have also come forward, saying that they had purchased the masks from importers at a higher price than that fixed by the government, leaving them in a quandary.

The decision to cap prices will however come as a relief for consumers who were being charged ridiculous prices by some retail outlets as the rush to buy face masks intensified over the weekend.

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