LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Some companies have been hoping to profit from the coronavirus outbreak, and on Thursday, California’s attorney general had some strong words for them.
“It is not open season,” AG Xavier Becerra said.READ MORE: San Bernardino Investigators Say Loma Linda Sexual Predator May Have More Underage Victims That Have Not Yet Come Forward
The warning came after a recent shortage of hand sanitizer and other supplies to mitigate the spread of coronavirus seemed to have caused a spike in prices.
“With Gov. Newsom’s declaration yesterday of a state of emergency throughout California, price gouging restrictions have gone into effect statewide in California,” Becerra said.
Plenty of store shelves across the Southland are bare — with no hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes or masks — but some of those same items can still be found online with sky high prices.
“Businesses cannot exploit this state of emergency to unlawfully raise prices and attempt to unscrupulously profit off of this emergency,” Becerra said. “These price gouging restrictions make it illegal for businesses to raise the prices of most goods and services by more than 10%.”Drone Video: Great White Sharks Off California's Coast Are More Common Than You Think
But not everyone was willing to pay the increased prices, taking common sense approaches recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If you just get soap and wash your hands for like 20 seconds, I think you’ll be fine,” Melvina Starks, said.
Fenacesca Bosisio, a tourist visiting from Italy — a country hard hit by the disease — said people there were making their own hand sanitizer.
“The most important thing is to try to avoid contact with people, so if you don’t shake hands and don’t touch anything and when you get home wash your hands, it’s the same as hand sanitizer,” she said. “So I will not pay more.”
The price gouging restrictions are the same that go into effect after a state of emergency is declared following damaging wildfires, and shoppers are encouraged to report any potential cases to the state.MORE NEWS: 'Just Not Fair': Gascón Drops Bid For Death Penalty In Killing Of 10-Year-Old Anthony Avalos
Those found guilty face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine per violation.