A LOCAL business is focusing its efforts on providing protective masks to the public amid the UK lockdown.

Independent business La Sartoria, based in Market Place, Reading, has temporarily converted the core business of tailoring and alterations to help people stay safe.

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Owner Francesco Grande and his wife are creating the masks.

He said: "We are Italian and are seeing what's happening in Italy, we understand there is a shortage of masks there.

"It is something we are able to do as a business.

"At the moment, here, this emergency is just at the start.

"We may arrive at the same situation as Italy, or maybe worse.

"People are still going out.

"In Italy, there is a shortage of masks for everyone, not just doctors, and when they shop they have to cover themselves with with scarves, which isn't as effective.

"These masks offer a lot of protection, they are also able to be washed."

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He added that the company currently has seven employees, who have been asked to stay at home.

"It's a difficult situation for us because we are a family and we don't want to lose them, but we would rather they be well than get sick.

"Only one person was working in the shop, my wife Elaine, but from today she will be working from home.

"We are going to use our online shop for people to purchase the masks.

"We starred selling the masks yesterday (March 24) and have already sold quite a few - not just in Reading, but as far away as Manchester." Mr Grande added that he would ask the local population to support local businesses at this difficult time.

"We would like to do all we can to support them and provide these masks," he said.

"The mask is a really effective barrier."

Online orders will be made here.