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State of emergency prevents price gouging in Virginia

When Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency, it triggered the commonwealth's anti-price-gouging laws. This makes sure people have access to necessary supplies.

RICHMOND, Va. — When Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, a state law against price gouging kicked into effect.

The law, enacted in 2004, stops business from charging "unconscionable prices" for things like water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers and medicines for the 30-day period following the state of emergency.

State Attorney General Mark Herring said this law protects Virginians against scammers when they are most vulnerable.

"I would encourage all Virginians to pay attention to any prices that seem too high, and contact my office as soon as possible if you think someone may be illegally overcharging for necessary goods or running a scam," Herring said.

The CDC recommends washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting areas you touch often in your home and office as ways to slow the spread of coronavirus. Locally, though, stores have been running out of necessities like toilet paper, hand soaps and sanitizers as people stock up in fear of COVID-19. 

When new shipments come in, officials want to make sure price is not a barrier to accessing necessary sanitation products.

Herring said if people notice price gouging in the next month, they should call the consumer protection section of his office at 800.552.9963.

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