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Dozens of arrests in France over illegal face masks resale

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By Euronews  with afp
An employee shows a protective face mask on January 28, 2020 at a pharmacy in Kaufbeuren, southern Germany.
An employee shows a protective face mask on January 28, 2020 at a pharmacy in Kaufbeuren, southern Germany.   -   Copyright  KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP

Several people have been arrested in France for illegal dealing of protection masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All face masks have been requisitioned by the French government to combat the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus and selling them has thus become illegal. 

In Paris, an illegal stock of over 23,000 masks

A man was arrested in Paris on Wednesday after police discovered 23,060 protection masks in his possession, the Paris prosecutor's office confirmed to Euronews on Saturday.

The individual had hidden his stock of face masks in a vehicle parked in Paris' 15th arrondissement. He has been charged with "misleading commercial practice", "fraud" and "refusal to obey an administrative requisition", the prosecutor's office confirmed.

The stock of masks has been given to the French health authorities.

This is the biggest seizure of face masks in the French capital since the French government has banned their resale amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, 20,000 face masks were discovered in a travel agency of the 13th arrondissement in Paris.

The shop's owner, a 47-year-old woman, is scheduled to appear in criminal court on April 21.

The Paris prosecutor's office has so far opened 14 investigations into the resale of face masks and hydroalcoholic gel.

In the South of France, arrests of pharmacists

Three pharmacists in the south of France have been arrested in two separate cases for illegal resale of face masks, AFP reported on Saturday.

A pharmacy owner in Nice, on France's Mediterranean coast, was arrested for reselling face masks in her shop, despite the French government's requisition of all face masks for the health sector, in place since March 23.

She also sold homemade hydroalcoholic gel made from gel used for ultrasounds.

She has been banned from working at or entering her pharmacy and fined €5,000. Her trial is scheduled for April 27, AFP reported, citing the Nice prosecutor's office.

The exact number of face masks she was selling has not been made public.

The other two pharmacists, working in Cannes, on the coast, and Grasse, a bit further to the north, were also arrested for selling face masks despite the requisition  — masks that did not even have the CE guarantee required by European standards.

More than 220 face masks have been seized by the police in the case.

The pharmacists have paid bail worth €2,000 and €1,500 respectively and will go on trial on May 25. They have not been forbidden to keep working, unlike the Nice pharmacist.