Major retailers fined after 33 million face masks in Romania found not to meet safety standards

Major retailers have been fined after a staggering 33 million face masks checked in the last month failed to meet legal safety standards, authorities said Friday.

Supermarket retailers Lidl, Kaufland, Mega Image, Auchan, Altex and Profi were among the places found to be selling sub-standard face coverings following a month of checks by consumer protection authorities.

DIY store Dedeman, German pharmacy DM and major pharmacy chains such as Sensiblu and Help Net and Lukoil Romania filling stations have all been fined for selling unfit face masks..

The National Consumer Protection agency handed out the fines worth 2.9 million lei (about 595,000 euros) after sweeping checks were carried out from Oct. 23-Nov. 23, national news agency Agerpres reported.

Irregularities included missing parts, no Romanian-language instructions,  missing user instructions, a lack of details about the composition, and no EU safety guarantee or a fake EU guarantee.

The announcement came after Economy Minister Virgil Popescu this week said that half the masks on the market didn’t meet safety standards and wouldn’t protect people from Covid-19. He appealed to consumers to buy Romanian-produced masks.

Romania recently made face masks compulsory in all public places after coronavirus cases soared in the country.

Authorities demanded that about 32 million masks be pulled from the shelves until the situation was fixed. Some 725,500 masks were ordered to be removed from sale.

Some 35.1 million masks were checked with a retail value of 19.76 million lei ( 405,500 euros . Almost 33 million masks didn’t meet the required legal standards.

Authorities handed out 431 fines and issued 237 warnings.

The agency said that of the almost 600 outlets checked, two-thirds or 396 places were selling face masks that did not meet safety standards. Results are pending for 79 outlets.

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