Demand soars for masks

Posted at 1:35pm Friday 14 Aug, 2020 | By Jonathan Killick news@localmatters.co.nz

Covid 19 masks MahurangiRodney pharmacies are scrambling to get more supplies of medical masks as demand skyrockets in the face of a possible extension of the lockdown.

Harts Pharmacy in Warkworth has sold out and is hoping to get another shipment in today.

“People are asking all day every day for masks. It's the only topic of conversation in here,” Brendon says.

Matakana Pharmacy says most of its wholesaler suppliers have run out and they aren't able to get more stock into the country until September 10.

“Most stockists have been out since the announcement, but we managed to get some in so we are okay for now,” a spokesperson says.

They say when the lockdown was announced the wholesale price of masks went up overnight, with some more than doubling in price up to $250 for a packet.

The Warkworth Unichem, in Percy Street, is ahead of the curve and has plenty of supplies of masks and hand sanitisers.

“We thoroughly replenished stocks after the experience of the last lockdown.”

They are not limiting sales and are selling basic masks from $4.

Retail manager Valerie Hay is warning that homemade masks may not be enough for protection.

She says a simple test is to check if a droplet of water passes through the mask. If it does, the mask does not protect against viral transmission.

Homemade masks should be worn along with at least a simple pharmacy-grade mask.

Warkworth Unichem is also awaiting specialist N95 masks that will be $15 each.

The N95 masks are particulate filtering respirators that filter at least 95 per cent of airborne particles.

Valerie says masks must be worn over the nose in order to be effective.

“They need to be well moulded over the mouth and nose to be effective.”

Gareth Winslow, of the Warkworth World Travellers, imported masks after the last lockdown and is now getting approached by retailers and wholesalers for his supply.

Knowing the travel industry was likely to suffer for some time, the Winslows thought they could supplement their income while helping the community.

Gareth and his family recently moved from China and had factory contacts there.

“The masks sat around here for months, but I thought one day they would come in handy,” he says.

“I have been selling them to local pharmacies who need supply. Wholesalers from around the country have got in touch to get my supplier because they can't get them from anywhere else.”

He is selling boxes of 50 masks for $50 via contactless payment at the World Travellers in Warkworth and still has plenty on hand.

Meanwhile, demand has skyrocketed for custom made fashion masks from Wellsford's Robyn Morris.

She is selling handmade 100 per cent cotton masks with funky designs from the Clever Endeavours store in Wellsford.

Robyn has had 70 orders since the country woke up to the announcement on Wednesday.

“I had no idea how popular they would be. I'm going to have to catch up with orders in the weekend.

“They can be washed and used again, so it's more environmentally friendly.”

Robyn is selling them for just $7.50.

“I think if its affordable and fun, people will wear them more and that's what it's really about.”


  •   •  Warkworth Unichem has a good supply, selling from $4 a mask.

  •   •  Harts Pharmacy in Warkworth has limited supplies but is expecting a shipment.

  •   •  Franklins Life Pharmacy in Warkworth is selling packs of 10 and is expecting a shipment soon.

  •   •  Matakana Pharmacy has limited supplies and is prioritising those in need such as local elderly.

  •   •  The Wellsford Pharmacy has plenty of masks having ordered them last week but are limiting sales to five masks per person.

  •   •  Snells Beach Pharmacy and the Snells Beach Unichem both have limited supplies and are hoping further shipments will arrive soon.

  •   •  World Travellers in Warkworth as bulk supplies of 50 masks for sale.


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