At the government’s daily briefing yesterday evening, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that face coverings would become compulsory for people using public transport in England from 15 June.
There was an immediate spike in Google searches for “face masks”, according to data from Google Trends.
A number of printing companies have diversified into the production of masks and other face coverings, such as visors, over the past few months.
Solopress has introduced a range of polyester face masks with adjustable straps, with options ranging from basic through to professional and with bespoke branding.
Managing director Simon Cooper commented: “The announcement last night has led to a spike in demand for our face coverings however it’s likely to be short-lived. After the last announcement we had a crazy couple of days but then demand petered out quite quickly.
"I wonder though whether this announcement is a precursor to a full blown mandate that coverings should be worn in all public places?”
Solopress has also just run a mask design competition under the hashtag #MaskMyWay, aimed at bringing “stunning face mask designs to life while financially supporting members of the design community at the same time”.
Grafenia chief executive Peter Gunning said the group's mask range had grown significantly since it launched its fun AniMask offering in April.
“We’re approaching the £10,000 mark on AniMask donations to NHS charities, and still getting orders every day,” he said.
“We’re also getting lot of interest in our corporate face covers, so we launched a new range of ‘Luxury Masks’ as well as simple black foam masks.”
“The Luxury Masks are double-skinned with 100% cotton inner and a pocket to hold a standard PM2.5 filter. Businesses can get them in their own brand from just five pieces, made in Manchester,” Gunning added.
He also said the group’s Nettl business was poised to mail out a 52pp Covid buying guide for businesses, which will go out to 50,000 clients next week.
Prime Group, which hit the headlines early in the crisis thanks to its efforts to produce much-needed PPE visors, is anticipating increased demand for the product.
Managing director Jon Tolley said the firm delivered 1.2m visors to the NHS in May, and will ship 1.5m this month.
Tolley said he anticipated that visors could also become a popular option for people using public transport.
“If anything I expect a belt and braces approach. People will feel more secure the more PPE they’re wearing, so they might choose to wear a visor and a mask. A visor helps you to stop touching your face,” he said.
Regarding face coverings in general, he added: “It’s the certified stuff that the real challenge. Let’s get the mass market items to the public and leave the certified products for the NHS and the professionals who really need it.”
At the beginning of this week, Bluetree Group announced that it had invested in specialist surgical mask making equipment from Diecut Global, and had launched a new monthly subscription service for the supply of masks.
The new government edict applies to buses, trains, trams, coaches, aircraft, ferries and the London Underground.
Transport for London said it would trial giving out free masks from Monday (8 June) to help customers adapt to the new requirement.
Doctor’s union the British Medical Association (BMA) has called for face coverings to be made compulsory in public wherever social distancing is not possible. The union also wanted the requirement to wear them on public transport to be brought in immediately.
Update: at the evening briefing today (5 June) health secretary Matt Hancock announced that as the NHS opens up again, hospital visitors and outpatients in England will also have to wear face coverings from 15 June, while hospital staff will be required to wear type one or type two surgical masks.