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COVID-19: Two Londoners sew reusable face masks for friends and family during lockdown

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the beginning of a lockdown in the UK on 23 March, life has changed drastically for most people in the nation. Mr Johnson declared a “moment of national emergency”  due to COVID-19 and asked people to stay at home where possible.

On 26 March, it was announced that Prince Charles had been diagnosed with the virus. It was then announced on 27 March that Boris Johnson had contracted the virus. The number of cases of COVID-19 in the UK has steadily been climbing since the end of February.

The NHS began recruiting “Voluntary Responders” to help combat the virus. The volunteers will perform “simple, non-medical tasks” as a support for people in need in the UK. In order to apply, you must be under 70 years old, not experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms,  have no underlying health conditions and must not be pregnant.

This recruitment scheme received an “initial 750,000 applicants”. It has been paused since 29 March to allow these applications to be processed and according to the NHS website, further information on volunteering will follow.

Many people who wish to volunteer cannot. Beau Holland is an Irish actor who is currently living and working in London. She had pneumonia in 2018 and cannot apply to the volunteer scheme.

Instead, Ms Holland and her housemate Daisy Elsom, who are quarantining together in London, decided to do something small for as many people as they could from the safety of their own living room.

Sewing masks, photo by Beau Holland

Ms Elsom is a seamstress and has been teaching Ms Holland how to make clothes during their isolation experience. The newest item on their production line is reusable face masks which can be sanitised by boiling them. Each mask also has a pouch on the inside where a surgical mask can be placed for added protection.

Cutting out fabric, photo by Beau Holland


So far they have made 50 masks and plan to give them as gifts to people they know, such as the postman, their neighbours, family and friends. The masks are not of a suitable grade for workers in the NHS. However for those who are simply going to the supermarket or out for a walk, they offer a “small bit of protection” mainly by preventing the user from “touching their face” or acting as a barrier in case someone sneezes on or near them.

Would you wear one of these masks? Let us know in the comments section!

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