Allegations of profiteering from the shortage of face masks have been circulating widely on social media, but a closer examination of the story shows a different side.

Some Facebook users were outraged to see that the Casino shop on Port Hercule was selling a box of face masks at 138 euros, each box containing 65 masks, or a little more than two euros per mask. However, the manager of the outlet had bought a bulk quantity to help safeguard the staff during the coronavirus crisis, and had been told by the supplier that prices were likely to rise, not fall and so had bought extra quantities.

The boxes of masks were being sold at cost price, and considerably less than the price in pharmacies, where the typical cost of a superior FFP2 mask is between seven and 10 euros. Sales have been limited to one box per customer. The shop manager told local French daily Monaco Matin that a quantity of masks were donated to the Hector Otto Foundation. According to Le Figaro, the price of face masks from China has increased 40-fold in recent weeks.

In the meantime, several Monaco businesses are making face masks, including fashion house Bettina, which normally supplies knitted items to several upmarket French brands. The Bettina masks are washable and reusable.