The government on Friday declared masks, including N95, and hand sanitisers as ''essential commodities'' in the wake of the coronavirus scare leading to shortages and black marketing of these items.
These items will remain under essential commodities segment till June-end, a move aimed at ensuring availability at reasonable prices and cracking down on hoarders/black marketeers.
The government has notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act to declare masks (2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks) and hand santisers as essential commodities up to June 30, 2020.
The decision has empowered the Centre as well states to regulate production, quality, distributions of masks and hand sanitisers, and also to smoothen sale and availability of these items, and carry out operations against speculators.
The step has been taken in view of the "ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and concern of the logistics for COVID-19 management, particularly during last couple of weeks, and that masks and hand sanitisers have been noted to either not available with most of the vendors in the market or are available with difficult difficulty at exorbitant prices," said the government order.
An offence under the Essential Commodities Act can attract imprisonment up to 7 years.