On June 24, 2021, New York celebrated the lifting on most COVID-19 restrictions. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the COVID-19 state of emergency would officially expire. With the expiration of the emergency declaration, the state of New York’s price gouging restrictions were also lifted. The New York price gouging statute provides for certain pricing restrictions “during any abnormal disruption of the market”, and that an abnormal disruption of the market is triggered by a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor. After over a year of COVID-19 related pricing restrictions, the Governor’s announcement marked the end of those restrictions.

However, New York state is not the only relevant jurisdiction to consider when examining price gouging laws. New York City has an independent price gouging rule and its own active state of emergency. Mayor Bill de Blasio has maintained a COVID-19 related declaration of a state of emergency in New York City since early 2020. These declarations trigger the City’s price gouging rule. This rule prohibits excessive prices on certain goods “during a declared state of emergency in the City of New York,” as well as selling or the offer to sell goods covered under the statute at a price 10% or more above the price for the same or similar good 30-60 days prior to the initial COVID-19 declaration issued on the March 12, 2020. On July 16, 2021, Mayor de Blasio renewed the state of emergency—signing an executive order extending the emergency for an additional five days—therefore, the City’s price gouging rule remains in effect despite the expiration of state of New York’s public health emergency. Businesses in New York City should be aware of items covered by these restrictions, “goods or services that are essential to health, safety or welfare”, some of which include “medical supplies such as medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol, medical masks, and antibacterial products.”

Although COVID-19 emergency declarations continue to expire, price restrictions may not be entirely shelved. Governors and local officials regularly declare states of emergency for localized disasters. For example, over the last several months Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency related to flooding, parts of Florida were under emergency declarations due to hurricanes, and wildfires continue to trigger states of emergency in the west. The state of New York is also not exempt from new emergency declarations. Currently, New York state is under an emergency as of July 6, 2021, when Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency as it pertains to gun violence. This declaration is distinguished from the previous biweekly COVID-19 related declarations which triggered the price gouging statute. The Governor’s order appears to be in effect until further notice, though pricing restrictions are not addressed in the order itself. It is not clear whether an “abnormal disruption of the market” exists, but it is possible that the government or consumers might take the position that the mere declaration of a state of emergency triggers the price gouging statute. Ultimately, provided an emergency declaration has been issued, pricing restrictions can be trigged whether on a local or statewide level. Even as businesses and individuals begin to see relief from the COVID-19 restrictions, business must remain cognizant both ongoing pricing restriction and of the possibility of new pricing restrictions from new or continuing emergency declarations.

Special thanks to Myls Walker for his contribution to the post. 

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Photo of Christopher E. Ondeck Christopher E. Ondeck

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s nationwide Antitrust Group. He represents clients in civil and criminal antitrust litigation, defending mergers and acquisitions before the U.S. antitrust agencies, defending companies involved in government investigations, and providing antitrust counseling.

Chris has handled antitrust matters…

Chris Ondeck is co-chair of the Firm’s nationwide Antitrust Group. He represents clients in civil and criminal antitrust litigation, defending mergers and acquisitions before the U.S. antitrust agencies, defending companies involved in government investigations, and providing antitrust counseling.

Chris has handled antitrust matters for clients in a number of industries, including advertising, aerospace, alcoholic beverages, appliances, building materials, consumer products, defense, franchise, medical devices, metals, mining, natural resources, oil and gas, packaging, pharmaceuticals, software and telecommunications. He also has developed substantial experience advising clients regarding the application of the antitrust laws to the pharmaceutical industry, the agriculture industry, trade associations and the energy industry.

Photo of John R. Ingrassia John R. Ingrassia

When competition or antitrust questions arise, John Ingrassia is sought out for his knowledge, reputation and credentials.

John is a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review, and for more than 20 years has counselled businesses facing the most challenging antitrust issues and…

When competition or antitrust questions arise, John Ingrassia is sought out for his knowledge, reputation and credentials.

John is a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review, and for more than 20 years has counselled businesses facing the most challenging antitrust issues and helped them stay out of the crosshairs — whether its distribution, pricing, channel management, mergers, acquisitions or joint ventures.

John is a senior counsel at the Firm, advising on the full range of antitrust matters in diverse industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services and health care, among others.  His practice focuses on the analysis and resolution of antitrust issues related to mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures, and the analysis and assessment of pre-merger notification requirements. John has extensive experience with the legal, practical, and technical requirements of merger clearance and is regularly invited to participate in Federal Trade Commission and bar association meetings regarding Hart-Scott-Rodino practice issues.

Photo of Shannon D. McGowan Shannon D. McGowan

Shannon McGowan earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she captained the school’s Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court team.

Prior to law school, Shannon served as a legislative assistant to state representatives at the Oklahoma State…

Shannon McGowan earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she captained the school’s Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court team.

Prior to law school, Shannon served as a legislative assistant to state representatives at the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.