An agreement was reached on Monday for pharmacists to resume selling face masks, after they had stopped sales in protest against a price cap imposed by government on Sunday.

Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said on Sunday prices were being capped at 95c for face masks and €5 for face shields. Pharmacists immediately complained that selling items at those prices would lose them money, as wholesale costs were higher. The Chamber of Pharmacists later told pharmacists not to sell the items until a deal was reached. 

The Chamber of SMEs (formerly the GRTU) said on Monday evening that and agreement has been reached whereby pharmacy owners would be able to sell face masks and face shields at the price announced by Schembri. The government would compensate the pharmacies to cover their losses, it said.

During the talks, Schembri also committed to a revision of VAT rates on personal protective equipment in order to bring down prices, the chamber said.

Wearing masks has become mandatory for shoppers and bus passengers as measures to contain the pandemic are relaxed. 

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The Chamber of SMEs insisted that pharmacies were “at the end of the supply chain” and that they had been unduly affected when prices were fixed.

In a statement, the Chamber of Pharmacists criticised Silvio Schembri, saying “the government has put everyone in the same basket, and this is not acceptable”.

The Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry also hit out at the price capping decision, which it said was "draconian" and "unacceptable". 

The Chamber of SMEs said price capping marked a return to a practice last carried out decades ago and which the country had since proudly eradicated. "Such a level of imposed intervention should not even be possible in this day and age," it said. 

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