WAKEFIELD – While wearing face masks has become compulsory in some Italian regions as the country emerges from its Covid-19 lockdown, attempts by the government to impose a price cap on them appear to have backfired.
On May 3rd, emergency chief Domenico Arcuri announced that the price of masks would be capped at 50 eurocents and that wide distribution was guaranteed through agreements with supermarkets and pharmacies.
Almost immediately, however, there were reports of problems, with retailers warning that inventories were running low, while pharmacies in some regions said they would stop stocking masks because they were unable to secure them at a price below the 50 eurocents cap.
In major cities, price-capped masks are reported to be available in only one pharmacy out of four.
Italy has also tried to boost its domestic production capacity and back in March, a consortium of companies was established to produce about 14 million masks per week – half the country’s demand. How rapidly this supply chain will be fully functional is currently unclear.
Shops, restaurants and bars are re-opening this week in Italy, which will only exacerbate the demand for masks, and it looks unlikely the initial price cap measure will hold.