The French invited to buy masks “Made in France” in a surplus

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Paris (AFP) – While the coronavirus is starting to ebb in France, the country has an unthinkable problem just a few weeks ago – a surplus of masks – inciting consumers to buy made in France.When the coronavirus epidemic was at its peak in France, the demand for masks was so great that many textile companies turned to manufacturing reusable cloth masks.

As the pandemic slows in Europe, companies have millions of unsold masks on their hands, prompting the government to promote these “Made in France” masks.

Washable up to 20 times and sold for 3 to 5 euros ($ 3.4-5.7) a piece, reusable masks are an essential means of limiting contagion.

And since mid-March, 450 French companies have started manufacturing them, speeding up production and sometimes investing to make the change.

Only a few weeks ago, it was almost impossible to buy masks in pharmacies in France and even essential workers said they could not get them, which angered the government.

But with the virus in decline, demand has dropped in recent weeks, causing an overabundance and they are now ubiquitous in pharmacies’ windows.

Some 40 million masks have gone unsold, causing concern for the textile industry.

Their calls for help to sell surplus goods have so far fallen on deaf ears.

But this week, the Ministry of Finance invited stakeholders to a group discussion and said it would “inform the public and big business” about the benefits of reusable masks.

– “Ecological” –

“Ten percent of businesses have too many masks on their hands,” Agnès Pannier-Runacher, secretary of state for the economy, told RTL radio.

The excess mask is not the result of a political failure, she said.

“Mask making has saved hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs,” Pannier-Runacher added on LCP TV, at a time when industries stopped to observe a strict two-month lockout period to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

But “Made in France” masks are often snubbed in favor of the cheaper but less durable option – the disposable surgical mask.

“Many companies prefer to give their employees surgical masks imported from China,” said Pannier-Runacher.

The surgical mask seems “more practical, but it is less ecological and less economical,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

– Good quality –

The ministry also wants to perpetuate the French production chain, in order to be ready for a hypothetical second wave of COVID-19 or a future health crisis.

“The public, businesses and local communities must understand that there are masks” Made in France “reliable and of good quality which must be privileged compared to imported and disposable masks”, said Guillaume Gibault, founder of the principal French brand of underwear Le Slip. French.

Gibault told AFP he hopes there will be new initiatives to help the textile industry, which has suffered from outsourcing in recent decades.

Le Slip Francais, best known for its elegant underwear, now offers its customers a pack of four reusable masks – in blue with red links – for 36 euros.

The government initially advised that masks should only be worn by doctors, nurses and people with symptoms, before going back and recommending widespread use.

The government is accused of lying about the effectiveness of masks at the start of the pandemic in order to reserve limited stocks for front-line medical personnel.

Masks are now mandatory on public transportation and many businesses and retailers require staff and customers to wear them as well.

jug-mhc-lem-jdy-ech / sjw / spm

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