Face masks can now be delivered direct to your door thanks to an innovative UK subscription service.
Wearing a face covering in shops in England is to become mandatory from 24 July, with £100 fines for those failing to comply.
Letterbox PPE launched in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, providing households and businesses across the UK with all the protective equipment they need.
Every four weeks, subscribers receive a delivery of protective face masks, as well as hand sanitiser and nitrile powder-free gloves – based on the level of their subscription.
The UK subscription box economy is estimated to reach £1bn in value by 2022, according to a report by the Royal Mail last year. From food, beauty and alcohol, to children’s toys, dog treats and houseplants, there are hundreds of subscription boxes available to buy.
But rather than provide luxury items or family entertainment, Letterbox PPE is focused on the safety of their subscribers.
Company director Rob Statham, who is based in Cumbria, said: “The subscription service is an idea we had to help people source masks so they’re confident in their quality or know there’ll be a regular supply. We’re aware of a lot of low-grade imports that have flooded the market.
“And while some shops have started selling them they may not keep stock levels consistent. Without a face mask you can’t travel by public transport and, from later this month, enter shops and supermarkets.
“Our face masks are from a medical supplies company that specialises in medical-grade IIR and FFP2 masks, and all our PPE has been CE certified.
“The benefits with us are that it comes from a reputable company and the convenience of having it delivered to your door.
“It’s safe, hassle-free and our subscribers ensure they’re staying on the right side of the law.”
Until the pandemic Mr Statham’s primary business, AirClad, predominantly supplied pop-up buildings and structures within the events sector – all that came to a shuddering halt as the world went on lockdown due to the COVID-19. He hopes that Letterbox PPE will eventually be able to provide extra employment opportunities during this uncertain time.
Partnering with Matthew Griffin, a specialist in medical sales and hospital builds, to form Letterbox PPE, they aimed to put their combined expertise to use by addressing the issue of people struggling to source PPE for personal use.
He continued: “One of our factories in China completely switched its focus to producing masks, which led to our own decision to pivot the business in a similar direction. It was also a way of keeping our staff employed during this period of uncertainty.
“We are conscious not to disrupt the supply chain to the NHS and frontline workers, so we do not stock or sell the masks that they use.
“The masks that are available on our subscription service will stop around 95 per cent of virus particles, where the low-grade masks might stop around 50 per cent, and a scarf or a face covering pulled up over your face will filter out no more than 10 per cent.
“If you’re going to wear a mask, you might as well wear one that is doing something rather than it be a token gesture.”
The wearing of face coverings is set to become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from Friday July 24, while mask-wearing has been compulsory on public transport and at NHS facilities across the UK since mid-June.
The quality of readily-available PPE can also vary hugely, and Mr Statham believes that the effectiveness of your face mask should be of paramount concern.
The two types of mask available from Letterbox PPE have different capabilities; the IIR-type is considered to be a single-use mask with a lifespan of around one-hour, while the FFP2 is effective for up to eight hours and can be stored and reused multiple times.
“I can see certain sectors using masks for the foreseeable future, and some people will no doubt incorporate them into their daily lives,” added Mr Statham.
“I’ve been to places like China and seen how it is ingrained in their culture, whereas here it’s still a bit of a jarring sight.
“I’m a firm believer that you must practice what you preach and I’ve been wearing a mask since the start of lockdown – I’ve tested the product and I believe in the benefits of wearing them.
“They do take a bit of getting used to, but at this moment in time, it’s not like we are being asked to wear masks all the time.
“If a hospital or care worker can wear them for a 12-hour shift, we can wear one for the length of time it takes to walk around the supermarket.”