COVID-19 Antitrust Resource Center

Agency Status, Guidance From Enforcers, and Enforcement Actions

June 24, 2020

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, we will be regularly updating this chart that uses the best information available to us to track the status of the world’s antitrust agencies.

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Cleary is also collecting the firm’s latest thinking on a range of coronavirus-related topics of particular importance to clients in our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Below is a set of links to press releases from major antitrust agencies worldwide that we will be updating regularly.


Status of Agency Operations

  • May 19, 2020, the European Court of Justice announces recommencing hearings starting from May 25, 2020. Some hearings may be replaced with questions to the parties for a written response (link).

  • April 20, 2020: DOJ announced that it will not challenge the efforts of AmerisourceBergen to identify suppliers and facilitate the distribution of critical medications and healthcare supplies used to treat COVID-19 (link).

  • March 27, 2020: The FTC and DOJ jointly announced that they would resume processing requests for early termination of the HSR waiting period (link). 

  • March 27, 2020: The ACCC published a guidance regarding changes in its operations arising from the pandemic (link).

  • March 27, 2020: France suspends procedural deadlines for the duration of the state of emergency (link).

  • March 23, 2020: The Hong Kong Competition Commission temporarily closes its office until further notice (link).

  • The European Commission encourages parties to delay merger notifications until further notice, where possible (link).

  • March 19, 2020: The Spanish competition agency announces the suspension of statutory review deadlines in light of the state of emergency introduced in Spain. The agency will however try to adhere to the usual timelines in urgent matters (link).

  • March 18, 2020: The Canadian Competition Bureau issued a statement on possible delays to proceedings as a result of the pandemic (link).

  • March 18, 2020: The Competition Commission of India adjourns hearings until March 31, 2020 (link).

  • March 17, 2020: French competition authority asked the parties to postpone non-urgent merger notifications (link) and warned about delayed processing times.

  • March 13, 2020: U.S. FTC has implemented an e-filing and will not grant any early terminations for the time being (link). Staff will work remotely as well as limit in-person meetings and travel (link). U.S. DOJ has introduced similar measures (link)

  • February 15, 2020: The Chinese competition authority is implementing electronic filing, streamlining merger control process, and providing compliance guidance to assist companies to resume businesses (link).

  • January 5, 2020: The Chinese competition authority requested all filings and submissions to be made electronically (link).  Meetings are limited to teleconferences.

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Statements and Guidance From Enforcers

  • April 19, 2020:  The Competition Commission of India advised companies that cooperation among competitors is permissible if such agreements increase efficiency, in particular to cope with the significant changes in supply and demand patterns arising out of Covid-19 pandemic (link).

  • April 13, 2020 – The DOJ and FTC jointly announced that they are closely monitoring potential labor-related antitrust violations in the wake of the pandemic, such as collusion to reduce compensation, benefits, hours worked, or other terms of employment (link).

  • April 8, 2020: The European Commission published a temporary framework for assessing business cooperation during the COVID-19 outbreak (link).

  • April 5, 2020: SAMR of China announces it will grant exemptions for cooperation and agreements among companies closely related to the control of, and recovery from, COVID-19.  It will also streamline merger review of transactions in certain related industries (link).

  • April 4, 2020: DOJ announced that it will not challenge the collaboration among five medical supplies distributors to expedite the manufacturing and distribution of personal-protective equipment and pandemic-related medication (link).

  • March 31, 2020: The European Commission set up a page dedicated to application of antitrust law in situations related to the COVID-19 outbreak (link). 

  • March 27, 2020: COFECE issued a statement on cooperation to address supply shortages and confirmed it would prioritise mergers with production synergies (link)

  • March 26, 2020: The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission grants interim authorization for certain airlines to coordinate flight schedules and share revenue on ten regional flight routes, with the condition that such airlines will not charge fares higher than those in place on February 1, 2020 (link).

  • March 26, 2020: FTC Chairman Joe Simmons issued a statement noting that the Commission is working with state and federal law enforcement to combat deceptive business practices in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak (link).

  • March 26, 2020: Swiss Competition Commission publishes guidance on application of competition law during the COVID-19 pandemic noting , in particular, that competition law exempts conduct ordered by public authorities (link).

  • March 25, 2020: Thirty-three state attorneys general sent letters to Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Facebook, and Craigslist, calling on the companies to more stringently crack down on price gouging on their platforms (link).

  • March 25, 2020: ACCC grants an interim authorisation for medical technology companies to share information and coordinate supply requests for medical equipment (link)

  • March 25, 2020: UK CMA published a note on its approach to cooperation among businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic (link).

  • March 24, 2020: The US FTC and Department of Justice issued a joint statement on an expedited procedure for guidance on COVID-19 business cooperation measures (link).

  • March 23, 2020: The Dominican Republic antitrust agency (PRO-COMPETENCIA) warns businesses it is monitoring suppliers of essential goods and services for exploitative or collusive practices (link).

  • March 23, 2020: The Hong Kong Competition Commission issues statement recognizing the need for additional cooperation between businesses in certain industries on a temporary basis to maintain the supply of essential goods and services to consumer.  The Commission intends to take a pragmatic approach in its enforcement and advisory function in respect of such temporary measures that are genuinely necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak (link).

  • March 23, 2020:  President Trump announced signing an Executive Order to prevent hoarding and price gouging.  The President delegated the Department of Health and Human Services to designate critical medical supplies as scarce resources under the Defense Production Act (DPA); no materials have yet been designated (link).

  • March 23, 2020: The European Competition Network announces it will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place to avoid shortages of supply (link).

  • March 20, 2020: Polish competition authority appoints a task force to investigate instances of price gouging (link).

  • March 20, 2020: UK CMA creates a task force with a broad range of functions, from enforcement to advising the UK Government (link).

  • March 20, 2020: UK CMA releases a public letter the pharmaceutical and food and drink industries, urging companies to refrain from price gouging and misleading consumers about the efficacy of pharmaceutical products (link).

  • March 20, 2020: ACCC provides an urgent interim authorization for Australian banks to coordinate on their deferrals of loan repayments to small businesses (link).

  • March 19, 2020: South Africa introduces an exemption for agreements and practices in the healthcare sector (link).

  • March 19, 2020: Iceland competition authority is reviewing application for individual exemptions for horizontal agreements related to the COVID-19 outbreak within 48 hours (link).

  • March 19, 2020: The UK Government relaxes competition rules for supermarkets to facilitate cooperation necessary for securing supply of essential products. The CMA pledged to refrain from taking enforcement actions against other types of cooperation necessary to protect consumers (link). 

  • March 18, 2020: Norway grants a three-month exemption from national antitrust laws to the transport industry, including SAS and Norwegian (link).

  • March 16, 2020: U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed all U.S. Attorneys to focus on COVID-19 related fraud and other wrongdoing (link).

  • March 16, 2020: Greek competition authority issues a guidance on the application of competition rules to vertical agreements in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak (link).

  • March 16, 2020: The Portuguese competition agency encourages suppliers and distributors of essential products to adopt responsible business practices. The agency will enforce competition law against companies attempting to exploit the situation (link).

  • March 15, 2020: The Chinese competition agency is providing compliance guidance to companies by phone.  It also indicates that it will pursue monopolistic conduct in pharmaceutical and API areas, in particular in relation to drugs used to treat COVID-19 (link).

  • March 13, 2020: The European Commission is developing special legal framework to encourage state aid in mitigating economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (link).

  • March 12, 2020: Spanish competition authority is warning suppliers against price-gouging and other practices that may lead to increasing health care costs. Staff will work remotely and all visits have been suspended (link).

  • March 9, 2020:  U.S. Department of Justice cautions business community against violating antitrust laws in the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of public health products” (link).

  • February 7, 2020: The Chinese competition authority initiates a campaign with other governmental agencies to crack down on price gouging and collusion in relation to the supply of masks and other protective equipment (link).

  • February 1, 2020: The Chinese competition authority publishes guidelines on price gouging, to stabilize prices of medical supplies and essential consumer goods (link).

  • ACCC reminds that it can pursue excessive pricing if it constitutes unconscionable conduct, for example, in case of products critical to the health and or safety of vulnerable consumers (link).

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Enforcement Actions

  • April 14, 2020: The Indonesian antitrust authority (KPPU) probes into allegedly excessive pricing and bundling of rapid Covid-19 test services offered by hospitals.  The probe is prompted by complaints that prices of services offered are high and hospitals bundle test services with other services as a package (link).

  • March 31, 2020: The Missouri Attorney General issued civil investigative demands to eight third-party Amazon sellers (link).

  • March 22, 2020: U.S. DOJ files first enforcement action against COVID-19 fraud; federal court issues temporary restraining order against website offering fake COVID-19 vaccine (link).

  • March 21, 2020: Prompted by complaints, the Greek competition authority sends information requests to distributors, importers, and manufacturers of medical equipment (link). 

  • March 18, 2020: Brazil competition authority initiates an investigation of exploitative practices in the healthcare sector (link).  

  • March 17, 2020: Illinois Attorney General announced price gouging investigations, without yet having identified the targets of the investigations. (link)

  • March 12, 2020: Italian competition agency initiates two price-gouging investigations against Amazon and Ebay in relation to the individual protection products (link).

  • March 4, 2020: Washington State Attorney General announced price gouging investigations, without yet having identified the targets of its investigations (link). March 31, 2020: Washington State Attorney General sent cease and desist letters to five third-party Amazon sellers (link).

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