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Kiwi outdoor company makes masks for Covid-19

Cactus Outdoor is making masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Cactus Outdoor is ramping up production of face masks in the fight against Covid-19.

Initially designed for tradespeople such as builders and painters, the masks are now under unprecedented demand, and are being sold to rest homes and on the Cactus online store with a retail price of $45.

“Masks are in short supply, so it’s nice to be doing that, and nice to be doing something useful,” Cactus Outdoor director Ben Kepes said.

The factory in Christchurch has introduced appropriate safety measures, and some workers are self-isolating at home.

“The staff numbers are lower and the factory isn’t so full, everyone has PPE (personal protective equipment), we’re keeping people separate, cleaning, and using hand sanitizer,” Kepes said.

The New Zealand-owned and operated apparel company teamed up with Lanaco to start producing the face masks in late 2019.

The wool masks were initially made for tradespeople.

They use a natural wool filter to protect against pollution, bacteria and viruses, and are designed to be more than twice as easy to breathe through as a normal mask.

Kepes said it’s too early to know how the future economy will affect Cactus Outdoor, but that an extended lockdown will be problematic.

He hopes Covid-19 will start Kiwis thinking more carefully about their consumption.

“I think it might introduce people to focusing on the supply chain and its resilience and how buying the cheapest thing out of China maybe isn’t the right thing to do,” he said.

“If you can’t get it out of China anymore, it becomes irrelevant how cheap it is.”

No other equipment or clothing is available from Cactus Outdoor at this time.