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Hand sanitizer for $30? Buffalo Common Council OKs anti-price gouging measure

If you're a store owner in the City of Buffalo contemplating a big hike in prices during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Common Council has other ideas.

Council members, meeting in a virtual session on Tuesday, unanimously approved a measure revoking the license of any establishment jacking up their prices more than 20% during the crisis.

"It's been reported that one store was selling one stick of butter for $4," said Council President Darius G. Pridgen. "Not four sticks – one stick.

"It's unfortunate that some are taking advantage of this time to drive up prices when they should be helping people," he added.

Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo said he has also received reports of local stores selling hand sanitizer – a rare commodity because of its Covid-19 disinfectant qualities – for as much as $30.

"I don't know how they can sleep at night," he said.

The anti-price gouging measure now goes to Mayor Byron W. Brown for his approval.

Other retail concerns surfaced at Tuesday's meeting, including University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt's request that Erie County investigate nonessential businesses that continue operating "through the back door" and in violation of state and local orders. He noted one Bailey Avenue business sells hair, hand sanitizer and face masks to cars pulling up at curbside.

"We should ask Erie County to take a look at this because they certainly are not practicing social distancing," Wyatt said. "I'm hopeful they will be shut down."

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