By Elle Cecil
Victorians have again adapted to increasing COVID-19 restrictions by making and distributing homemade face masks across the state, sending craft and sewing sales skyrocketing.
A record 723 new coronavirus cases in Victoria on July 30 prompted Premier Daniel Andrews to enforce a face covering requirement for all Victorians whenever they leave home, as metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire have been doing since July 23.
Since the state government’s extended directive came into effect on August 2, Victorians have been scrambling to source face coverings.
Thousands of Victorians have been seizing the opportunity to profit and help others by sewing and selling home-made face masks and coverings.
Resource Rescue Inc is a not-for-profit art and craft shop in Bayswater North. For more than 30 years, the store has been selling reject, seconds and offcut materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
These recycled products are offered for sale to schools, community groups and the general public.
Manager Peter Vanos says the announcement making face coverings mandatory did wonders for his sales.
“We’ve had one of our biggest days ever,” Mr Vanos said.
“We were very busy last week, most of the people coming in are looking for elastic and fabric to make masks.
“A lot of people are making them voluntarily for aged care homes, hospitals and frontline workers.”
Many people are advertising their home-made masks on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
Glen Waverley woman Angi Frentiu is one of these people, making and selling face masks and matching pet bandanas, saying she feels it encourages people to wear a mask.
“Since masks have become mandatory, I just started making them for myself, my family and also friends,” Ms Frentiu said.
“I decided to make matching things that can go with the masks, because I had leftover material.”
Ms Frentiu said she had enjoyed making health and safety garments into fashionable pieces, totalling almost 20 orders before her sewing machine needed repairs.
A spokesperson for the federal Health Department said homemade masks had a positive impact on the environment and were encouraged if made and worn properly.
“Non-medical masks, made from cloth and other fabrics, are a reasonable choice for use in the community,” the spokesperson said.
“They can be re-used so they produce less waste than single-use masks.”