As states across the country shutter restaurants, bars and schools for the next several weeks or more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some are looking to pass legislation to stop businesses that remain open from price-gouging fearful U.S. consumers.Price gouging — the practice of charging exorbitant prices for essential items in times of high-demand — is prohibited during times of crisis in about two-thirds of the United States. As public panic surrounding COVID-19 heightens, consumers have been flocking to stores to stock up on supplies like face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes — to the exploitation of some retailers.One third-party seller on Walmart.com, for example, was charging nearly $50 for an 8-ounce bottle of Purell hand sanitizer; another tried to get almost twice that on Amazon.While online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart have taken steps to prevent the practice by suspending offers from sellers charging unfair prices, brick-and-mortar stores are being closely monitored by many state governments.Michigan was among the first states to take action against price gouging during the pandemic. Earlier this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order targeting big markups on supplies and consumer food items through mid-April, and the state’s attorney general,


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