OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a price gouging alert following Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order prohibiting price gouging of at-home COVID-19 test kits.
“The Omicron variant has reached California and communities across our state are working to combat this public health threat,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Californians are doing their part to confront this challenge – whether by caring for loved ones, getting vaccinated, or working on the front lines – and they shouldn’t have to worry about being cheated while dealing with the effects of coronavirus. The Governor’s newest Executive Order protects people impacted by the pandemic emergency from illegal price gouging on COVID-19 at-home test kits. I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint with our office online at oag.ca.gov/report or contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”
Today’s Executive Order protects Californians by generally prohibiting the sale of at-home COVID-19 test kits at a price that exceeds, by more than 10 %, the price the seller charged for the item on December 1, 2021. Sellers who have not previously sold at-home COVID-19 test kits may not sell testing kits for a price that is greater than 50% of what the seller paid to acquire the testing kit.
Any violation of this Executive Order would be a violation of Government Code section 8665, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both. Violations would also constitute a violation of the Unfair Competition Law, which is subject to a $2,500 per violation civil penalty. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the Executive Order.
A copy of the executive order is available here.