Where can you buy face masks in Suffolk?

Claire Pike of Sew Soft Furnishing in Capel St Mary wearing one of the masks she makes Picture: SEW

Claire Pike of Sew Soft Furnishing in Capel St Mary wearing one of the masks she makes Picture: SEW SOFT FURNISHING - Credit: Sew Soft Furnishing

Face coverings will shortly be compulsory on public transport and when visiting hospitals, while their use is encouraged in shops where social distancing may be difficult - but where can you buy them in Suffolk?

Some of the masks made by Sew Soft Furnishing in Capel St Mary Picture: SEW SOFT FURNISHING

Some of the masks made by Sew Soft Furnishing in Capel St Mary Picture: SEW SOFT FURNISHING - Credit: Sew Soft Furnishing

The cloth coverings, also known as face masks, will be required on buses, trains, coaches and other public transport from Monday, June 15.

From the same date, all outpatients and hospital visitors will also be required to wear face coverings at all times.

The government is also urging us all to wear face coverings when in enclosed spaces, such as shops, where “social distancing is not always possible”.

There are some exemptions, including very young children, and people with disabilities and breathing difficulties.

A mask from Where Does It Come From?, modelled by James Kerry Picture: LUCY KERRY

A mask from Where Does It Come From?, modelled by James Kerry Picture: LUCY KERRY - Credit: Lucy Kerry

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It has been stressed that home made cloth face masks which cover the mouth and nose are acceptable and that passengers are not required to wear medical-grade personal protective equipment face mask, used by healthcare workers.

The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

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The government has issued advice on how to make your own coverings at home - but many people don’t feel confident about doing this and would prefer to buy masks. Here are some of the options.

Masks made in Suffolk

• Sew Soft Furnishing: This independent business, in Capel St Mary, has home-made masks available in a range of different patterns, with a huge choice of fabrics, in sizes for adults and children. They are priced at £5 and made in two layers from 100% cotton, and are washable and reusable, with a pocket in the top, so you can insert your own filter.

Owner Claire Pike said: “There has been a lot of interest in the masks, especially since the announcement that people would have to wear them on public transport. We are offering them with a choice of ties or elastic.” You can see the details on their website.

Bev’s Eco Products: This company, based in Woodbridge, is also creating masks for the community. For every mask you buy, another one will be sewn and donated to a key worker or vulnerable person in the community. Masks are double-layered and made from quality cotton, with filter pocket and nose wire, and are available in different sizes and fabrics, priced at £10. It is also possible to order a mask kit for £4. For more details, visit their website.

• Vanners Silk Weavers: Based in Sudbury, Vanners is selling non-surgical silk masks in packs of two at £5 per mask, with second-class postage and packing at £2.50 up to 10 masks, They can be hand washed at up to 30C. For more details and to order, visit their website.

Organic cotton face coverings

If you are looking for an organic cotton face covering, ethical clothing brand Where Does It Come From, based in Ipswich, offers these, with proceeds going to good causes in the UK and abroad. The cost is £38 for a set of four. Each pack purchased will give a donation to UK foodbanks charity The Trussell Trust and the khadi social enterprise in India Gram Sewa Mandal, Gopuri where the cotton is grown and processed.

Each face covering also has a QR code so customers can explore its story and get to know the people involved in creating it. For more details, visit their website.

Ordering via Etsy

It is also possible to order via Etsy, a site where many craftspeople and small businesses sell their items direct to customers.

Although the site has sellers from around the world, you can search for UK only within the site, and you can also search for any particular features you would like - such as adult or children’s sizes or nose strips.

Louise Richardson, a creative designer based in Ipswich who offers quirky illustrated gifts via her UKTwoForJoy shop, says on her Etsy page: “All our lovely items are made in the UK, many of which are handmade in my Suffolk studio.” She has added handmade washable face masks to her range, priced at £9.50, which are available in a choice of designs and are all double-layer masks with filter pockets and strong metal bendable nose strips. Visit Louise’s Etsy shop for more details.

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Supermarkets and pharmacies

It is expected that many supermarkets and pharmacies will start to sell face coverings over the coming weeks.

Some are already selling packs of disposable masks, although official government advice is still that the general public should wear reusable coverings.

• Aldi: The discounter is the first supermarket to have started to sell cloth masks. It has packs of two white machine-washable masks in its middle aisle for £4.99, where these are available. The masks come in one size and are a SpecialBuy, meaning they are likely to be available only for a limited time. They have currently sold out on the Aldi website, so you will have to look for them in-store.

Other supermarkets are also expected to have them on their shelves within the next few weeks.

• Boots: The chain is currently offering three types of disposable face mask via its website, in different pack sizes. It says that it will soon be increasing its range to include reusable masks and a wider selection of disposable masks.

Masks by mail order

Online companies and fashion brands are starting to offer ready-made masks.

• Reusable Mask UK: Based in Needham Market, this Suffolk company offers a wide range of washable, reusable masks for both adults and children. Children’s masks cost £4.20 and adult ones cost between £5 and £6. The company has also been asking for “Pay It Forward” mask donations, meaning customers can pay £5 to donate a mask to the local charity Emmaus Suffolk. For more details and to order, visit the website.

• Vistaprint: The mail order company stocks masks which include replaceable filters, although it stresses they are not medical grade, in a wide range of designs for both children and adults. They say on their website that, for every mask purchased, they give a portion to help local communities impacted by coronavirus. Prices are £17 for adults and £13 for children’s masks.

They also stock packs of disposable masks, at £8.80 for 10.

• Mango: The fashion chain Mango is selling masks online for £12.99 which also contain filters and are certified to have 90% filtration efficiency and 60% breathability, for up to 10 washes.

• Asos: The leading fashion retailer has a number of mask designs available with double-layer construction, with patterns including animal prints, baroque and slogan prints, for both men and women.

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