With the government now requiring Israelis to wear a face covering when they leave their homes, the health and defense ministries have launched a project to manufacture reusable masks made of high-density cotton, a report said Friday.
The face masks are designed to fit everyone, including children and bearded men, the project manager told the Reuters news agency Friday.
Many ultra-Orthodox Jews and religious Muslims in Israel, as well as Christian clergymen, grow facial hair as a sign of faith.
“We already made masks for kids, youths and adults. One particular size — extra large — fits people with beards,” project manager Amit Ben-Kish said.
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The masks can be disinfected by washing in a 60°C (140°F) laundry cycle and reused for weeks.
Their protective capability is on par with that of single-use paper surgical masks.
Nearly a dozen workshops, including in jails, are producing the masks, which come in white except for those for the police, which have a blue design. More than a million have already been produced for healthcare workers and high-risk groups.
“While the state covered that initial cost, the plan is to produce further masks for sale in shops at around $2 each,” the report said.
“Each mask can be used dozens of times. By buying five masks for less than $10 (NIS 36), you are set for a few months,” Ben-Kish told Reuters.
The project comes as Israel and the world suffer a global shortage of masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The cabinet on Sunday approved a NIS 200 fine for anyone caught more than once without a face mask in public, less than the originally proposed NIS 500 fine for a first-time offender.