Vye Cycle Kit has put their custom cycling apparel manufacturing knowledge to use during the South African Covid-19 lock-down to manufacture three-layer masks. The masks are constructed from fabrics which were designed to keep cyclists dry and comfortable on long rides in extreme weather conditions. These masks will be available to purchase, to the general public. Vye will also be donating, masks, to their local South African Police Services station in Kensington, as well as to a newly erected homeless shelter, which is roughly a kilometre from Vye’s Cape Town factory.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize echoes the American organisation’s sentiment: “Wearing masks is important. We want to recommend widespread use of masks. We are recommending that people use cloth masks.”

Among the initial run of masks are masks which Vye will donate to the Kensington Police Station and a local homeless shelter. Photo by Max Sullivan.

While there is no scientific evidence to support the fact that wearing a three-layer cloth mask can prevent the wearer from contracting Covid-19 there are other important reasons to wear a mask in public. As with many of the measures governments have put in place, to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of masks helps groups rather than individuals. Due to the fact that individuals may remain asymptomatic and because those infected with the Corona Virus can further spread the virus before showing symptoms wearing a mask can protect the people around you.

Recognising their ability to aid in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa Vye Cycle Kit have repurposed their cycling apparel manufacturing factory. “We first wanted to give our staff the time to self-isolate and confirm that they are all healthy” Vye’s Sales and Marketing Manager Max Sullivan explained. “In the third week of the lock-down we offered the seamstresses the choice to come back to work and manufacture masks. It was fantastic to see them respond so positively to the task and take up the new challenge for the national good.”

As a custom kit manufacturer Vye is not only making standard black and white three-layer masks. They are also offering individuals and companies the opportunity to add sublimated designs to the outer layer. The masks are made up of a Breathable Moisture Managing Polyester inner layer, which is soft on the skin; a Semi-Permeable Polyester mid-layer, which creates a barrier between inner and outer layers eliminating contact between them; and a Two-Way Stretch Polyester outer layer.

“We recommend having three masks per person per household, always having two on you” advised Sullivan. “Having multiple masks means that you will always have a clean one at the ready, we recommend changing masks immediately after suspected contact with Covid-19 or upon exiting a high-risk area. For added protection wear large clear glasses to protect your eyes. Place the glasses’ nose piece over the mask if possible. Please also wash your masks upon receipt and safely dispose/recycle the packing immediately. The Vye three-layer masks are warm-water machine washable, which the CDC state should suffice to sterilise the masks between uses.”

“Along with the bulk and custom orders individuals will also be able to purchase three-layer masks from us, in five mask packs” Sullivan added. “We are working towards small order online sales and customers can follow our social media handles for those details as soon as the masks are available. Follow Vye Cycle Kit on Facebook and  @vyecyclekit on Instagram for further details.”

For more information on the correct and effective use of cloth masks please visit the CDC website (www.cdc.gov). South Africa specific Covid-19 information can be found at www.sacoronavirus.co.za. For more information on the Vye Cycle Kit three-layer masks please visit www.vyecyclekit.co.za.