France has millions of unsold masks after virus crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron wearing a protective face mask, visits a factory of manufacturer Valeo in Etaples, near Le Touquet, northern France. EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL

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The French praised the altruism of their prized textile and luxury goods companies when production facilities got diverted from churning out the latest fashions to making cloth masks designed to protect the general public from the coronavirus.

Now, the companies that helped France avoid a feared shortage of virus-filtering face wear for everyday use say they need help unloading a surplus of 20 million masks. They asked the French government for assistance promoting and finding buyers for the unsold output of the industry’s national effort.

Hundreds of textile and clothing manufacturers answered the government’s call for millions of masks superior to homemade versions. President Emmanuel Macron last month sported a military-tested model embroidered with the tri-color national flag to advertise the “Made in France” masks.

Yet within weeks, demand dried up for the domestically produced masks that sold for a few euros at supermarkets and pharmacies or were available in bulk for free distribution by businesses and local governments. Manufacturers and the government acknowledged that many suppliers and consumers still opted for cheaper disposable face masks from Asia.

Some textile companies complained that the French government was slow to validate their masks as effective in filtering out small particles, which slowed their ability to get to market before people were allowed to start emerging from their homes and needed masks in stores or on public transportation.

Read more via AP

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