Enough masks in stock for Swiss population until end of 2020

Local manufacturers and major retailers alike do not expect any mask supply bottlenecks between now and the end of the year. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

As reports circulate suggesting masks may soon become mandatory in indoor public spaces nationwide, authorities, retailers and manufacturers say there are enough of the protective gear in stock to last until the end of the year.

This content was published on October 17, 2020 - 17:57

The compulsory stockpile of masks maintained by the Federal Department of Defence is “overflowing”, a spokesperson told Swiss public television SRF. Major retailers Migros and Coop also said they did not anticipate any supply bottlenecks.

Hospitals, which experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic, have since ensured sufficient reserves for at least 12 weeks, the secretary-general of the Cantonal Directors of Health told SRF.

Local mask manufacturer Wernli, in canton Aargau, currently produces 500,000 masks a day.

“We are coping really well with customer orders, and this should be more or less the case for our competitors too,” said Felix Schönle.

Some 20% of masks sold in Switzerland are manufactured in the country, although dependence on foreign supplies, particularly from China, remains high.

Swiss standard for fabric masks expected in early 2021

Meanwhile, at the request of manufacturers, the Swiss Association for Standardization is developing a standard for fabric masks, SRF reported. Although it can take several years to issue a standard, experts involved in the process want to speed up its development so this standard can be applied as early as the beginning of 2021.

The national Covid-19 scientific task force issued recommendations for the production of fabric masks in the spring. Lab tests by a consumer-affairs show on SRF, however, revealed seven out of eight fabric masks did not meet filtration requirements.

There is currently no national or international certification for fabric masks. Adhering to a Swiss-wide standard would be voluntary for manufacturers.

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