Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty mask-makers are in high demand

A wave of high demand for reusable masks has swamped the Bay of Plenty and businesses are trying to keep up.

Feather and Fantail New Zealand owner Mel Wallis has been sewing for eight hours a day to make up to 25 masks.

The Greerton resident started her business in August 2020 and in the year since has been happy to make masks and help people.

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“I launched my business on pretty much the same day that Auckland went into lockdown again.”

Wallis said while her business was not only about making masks, she had seen an extremely high demand for the product then and now.

“I put up my reusable face mask listings on Wednesday and within five or six hours I had received orders for about 100 masks.

“I’m at capacity at the moment and I’ve got a bunch of people on a waiting list.”

Wallis said if the demand was there she wanted to keep making as many masks as she could.

“The most important thing is we’re all trying to be safe.”

Wallis said she made masks for ages 3 and up.

“I realise that mandatory masks are just for kids aged 12 and over but there is some demand for children’s masks too.”

Wallis has even received some orders for matching child and parent masks.

“There’s probably a couple of people twinning out there. I think it’s really sweet.”

Unichem Cherrywood Pharmacy pharmacist Joe Brown said the demand for reusable face masks was “not as crazy” as last year but still steady.

“The demand for reusable masks has been very high. As we order them in they’re getting snapped up within a couple of days.”

Brown said people preferred wearing reusable masks for longer periods of time.

“They’re a bit more comfortable for people wearing them all day. You’re wanting something that doesn’t irritate the face and the reusable ones can be softer.”

Brown said the pharmacy was not currently having trouble with supply.

“Last year there just wasn’t any stock at all across the whole country basically. There’s a lot more supplies now from the last year and a half.”

But Brown said demand could outstrip supply if both the lockdown and demand for masks continued.

Unichem Brookfield Pharmacy co-owner Nigel Gregory said the demand for masks over the past week had been “huge”.

“We’ve had to get more in.”

Gregory said many customers found the reusable masks more cost-effective.

“I think overall it’s cheaper to have a reusable one to use all the time.”

Gregory said the Cherrywood Pharmacy ordered masks from its local pharmacy wholesaler.

“Personally, we’re not having any issues meeting needs currently, especially in comparison to last time when everything ran out.”

Gregory said mask supplies would depend on how long the lockdown extended and whether or not the demand for masks increased over time.

But for now, Gregory said there was a “buffer” supply of masks and hand sanitiser for people to purchase.

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