Face coverings are being made at two UK sites as the government attempts to increase production with millions of extra masks each week.

Production lines in Blackburn, England and Port Talbot, Wales are the first of 10 sites bought by the government to begin manufacturing face coverings, and a third site in Livingston, Scotland will also start production “in the coming weeks”.

This ramping up of production is designed to ensure that, as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased across the country, public demand does not impact the supply of higher-grade face masks for frontline NHS staff.

The government has procured a total of 10 production lines across the UK — which include 34 tonnes of equipment and machinery — to meet these demands for protective face coverings.

Another 10 production lines are also currently being made with government support, having been commissioned by Coventry-based automotive firm Expert Tooling and Automation.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who announced the new production lines on 20 July, said: “This is a major step to ensure that this country can meet any increase in demand for face coverings by working with British firms to establish the capability, capacity and skills required to manufacture these items at scale.

“These production lines will be able to get millions of face coverings to the public without putting any additional pressure on NHS supply chains.

“It is fantastic to see companies in Lancashire, Neath Port Talbot and West Lothian coming together to provide face coverings for every corner of our United Kingdom.”


UK ramping up production of face masks

It’s currently mandatory for anyone travelling on public transport in England to wear a face mask and, as the UK government attempts to limit the spread of Covid-19 while gradually lifting lockdown restrictions, it will also be compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets from 24 July.

The government said the newly purchased production lines across the country will enable millions of face coverings to be made each week — the first time this scale of production has been achieved in the UK.

Orders for face coverings have already been placed by several public and private sector buyers, and the government also said it’s in discussions with several retail companies on the purchasing of these items.

uk face masks production
The UK government has bought 10 new face mask production lines, with another 10 currently being made (Credit: Shanghai Jinbei Photographic Equipment/Xu Hongzhi)

The critical materials for the manufacture of these masks have been sourced from UK manufacturers as well.

The UK manufacturing companies cooperating with the government in Port Talbot, Blackburn and Livingston are The British Rototherm Group, Cookson and Clegg, and Transcal respectively.

Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “As our economy bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic and people look to get back to work safely, it is vital that our supply of protective equipment meets demand.

“Firms like Rototherm in Port Talbot will ensure we have a strong domestic manufacturing capability and that high-quality face coverings are available to everyone who needs them.”