Liepāja factory begins face mask production during pandemic

Tonus Elast began producing protective face masks in Liepāja at the beginning of March as a social project, and the company urges other sewing companies in Liepāja to also begin production, hoping to organize this with a common plan of action, according to a Latvian Radio correspondent on March 18.

“We're trying to figure out how to speed up the production process, adjust our equipment. The masks are three-layered, they can be washed. Since Monday they've already been coming from the Liepāja City Council and taking everything we produce,” said board chair Dace Mihnenoka.

Their capacity is currently only 1,000 masks a day. Each one is handmade with a sewing machine as they aren't yet able to adapt their technology. Production cost is one euro per mask (without VAT), but “For the company it's not profit, it's a social project,” said Mihnenoka.

There has been a global shortage of masks due to the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus, especially due to people hoarding them or buying them when they aren't sick. The company just happens to have one shop by the Riga Maternity Hospital and another by the Liepāja Regional Hospital, so it made sense to begin even small-scale production.

“If, after all, Liepāja is a city of people who can sew, together we can think of something. I think in this situation everyone must think together, must unite and start doing. And not think how much we can make out of it,” said Mihnenoka.

Liepāja's iCotton Director Sergejs Binkovskis admits he's thought about it, but would have to buy equipment - most likely from China - and train people. This would take at least two months, and he said his company doesn't have the budget, although he would like to help. He is, however, open to talking with other sewing companies.

Liepāja has around 60 textile industry companies, including both sewing and material production companies. On Friday, March 20 the businesses are planning on discussing an action plan for material and resource access.

 

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