Face coverings have been ordered by Leicester City Council and are being sent out to thousands of people across the city.
The washable face masks have been made in factories in Leicester to help provide extra safety to locals who are “shielding” and self-isolating from the coronavirus since the end of March. Those that are doing so have been advised to shield until at least Monday 17 August.
There is roughly 15,000 people in Leicester who are classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable”. These people are expected to receive a packet containing two face coverings in the post sometime next week. The council says that they hope the gesture will be “seen as a reminder of the warm welcome that will be waiting for them, when the advice from the Government changes and they feel ready to return to the city and its amenities.”
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “After spending five months at home, safely shielding from the coronavirus, it’s going to be challenging for those most at risk from the virus to return to the way of life they enjoyed before lockdown.
“People may feel that the world has moved on without them – and they’re worried about being part of it again.
“And while we’re all feeling like that to some extent, it’s clearly much more significant for those who have been shielding at home.
“By providing everyone who’s been shielding with two simple washable face coverings, we hope we’ll help them get ready to take those first careful steps back into our city and its neighbourhoods, when the Government guidance changes.
“These face coverings have been made by businesses in Leicester, so I’m very pleased that this initiative means we’ve been able to support some brilliant local companies, while we support those who may need a helping hand to start enjoying life in the city once again.”
It is important to note, however, that face coverings are actually intended to protect other people from virus transmission rather than ourselves.
Leicester’s face coverings are made from a black knitted fabric and bear the words #LeicesterTogether – the hashtag that’s being used to unite the city during the coronavirus pandemic.
The masks have been created by four local businesses. They are ARC Fabrics on Morris Road, Print A Print on Gwendolen Road, Micro-Fresh on Thurmaston Boulevard, and Cut in it Fine on Saffron Road.
Micro-Fresh, a Leicester-based company, has developed the anti-viral coating which is to be applied to the face coverings before they’re sent out to shielders.
The Founder and CEO of Micro-Fresh, Byron Dixon OBE, said: “Micro-Fresh has been tested against viruses, giving our coating anti-viral properties which have proved to be durable, lasting for up to 50 washes.”
Zunaid Dassu, sales director at ARC Fabrics, said: “We are pleased to be able to showcase just how flexible and competitive Leicester manufacturing can be.
“From our initial conversations with the council we will have managed to manufacture and deliver over 60,000 face coverings in just over a week. This includes knitting and dyeing the fabric, printing the council logo and treating it with Micro-Fresh’s coating. It has been a pleasure working with Cut in it Fine, Print A Print and Micro-Fresh.”
60,000 face coverings have been ordered, which will be distributed to city council frontline staff and shared with voluntary sector organisations too.
This order is valued at £120,000 which is expected to be paid for by the governments funding assistance to help respond to the pandemic.
If anyone is shielding and self-isolating at home, and requires assistance or advice from the city council, there is a dedicated crisis support email address here: C19support@leicester.gov.uk
You can also get help from the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm.
More information can be found at www.leicester.gov.uk.
The government is set to review the Leicester lockdown by Friday 14 August, although it is currently unknown how much information will be received or if anything is expected to change at all, especially considering the lack of communication form the government regarding the city. Keep an eye on our social media for more updates.