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'I've been trying to keep up': Yukon mask-makers see spike in demand

With masks now mandatory in all indoor public places in Yukon, some local sellers are seeing a surge in demand for face-coverings.

Masks now mandatory in indoor public spaces in Yukon

Ploytida Samanachangphunk, who is retired in Whitehorse, said she sometimes spends 4 or 5 hours a day making masks. (Submitted by Christine Macmillan)

With masks now mandatory in Yukon, local mask-makers are rushing to keep up with a surge in demand for face-coverings.

"Probably sales have at least quadrupled," said Nancy Bliss, who paints specially-designed masks in Tagish, Yukon.

"I've been trying to keep up."

In Dawson, Ashlee Fraser said more people wanted masks following new cases and a recent exposure notification in the community.

"This past week I have been run off my feet making masks again," said Fraser.

"Probably 100, 150 within a couple of days ... It was pretty intense."

Nancy Bliss paints about 25 masks per day in Tagish, Yukon. She said she's been rushing to keep up with a recent spike in demand. (Submitted by Nancy Bliss)

The Yukon government has made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces as of Tuesday.

People over age five are required to wear face coverings in most public spaces, including public transit, common office areas, and restaurants.

The territorial government recommends using masks made with three layers, although it says two-layered masks are fine.

Triple-layer masks in demand

Karin Martinez-Gomez started making masks in March at her Whitehorse sewing company, Renueva.

Production slowed down over the summer, but she's now selling about 100 masks a day.

Masks on their store table "disappear in half an hour," said Martinez-Gomez. "We have to make more and more."

Martinez-Gomez says people now want to buy a mask with three layers. She started making triple-layer masks following new Health Canada advice in November — and sales shot up again.

Christine Macmillan sells masks that her friend, Ploytida Samanachangphunk, makes in Whitehorse. They started teaming up as a way to spend time together, said Macmillan.

"I believe last week we sold almost 100, just in a week," said Macmillan.

Samanachangphunk said she doesn't make money off the masks, but she enjoys making them.

"I'm [in] retirement," she said. "I love to sew ... I learned from my mum."

There's been high demand for masks in Yukon, now that they're required in indoor public spaces. (Submitted by Christine Macmillan)

Mask-making is a side business for Fraser, although she says it's taking up much more time than she expected.

She started making masks in August when her son was going back to school. It was a way to cope with her own worries, Fraser said, and there was a lot of community interest at the start of the school year.

"It's been a wild ride," said Fraser, who sometimes makes 40 to 50 masks at a time.

"I didn't expect it to be quite so labour-intensive."

Masks made by Ashlee Fraser in Dawson, Yukon. (Submitted by Ashlee Fraser)

People in Yukon can be fined up to $500 for not wearing a mask where required.

The Yukon government says scarves, balaclavas, neck warmers or bandanas do not count as protective masks.

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