Stores retailing medical masks in Whanganui have had an uptick in sales since the Government this week urged New Zealanders to be ready in the event of a second wave of Covid-19.
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said on Thursday that every New Zealander should keep face masks in their emergency kits at home.
It appears Whanganui people have started following that advice.
Stacey Simpson at Central City Pharmacy said they had seen an increase in interest and sales of masks over the last week and a half.
"People are wanting to keep some at home just in case, which I think is pretty sensible," she said.
"When the first wave (of Covid-19) came through we didn't have a lot of masks, and people who were immune compromised weren't able to get them, so having a supply, not heaps, is a good idea.
Simpson said Central City Pharmacy had a stockpiled "pandemic planning kit" in case a second wave of Covid-19 were to fully return.
"It's a similar thing to an emergency kit, which people do for Civil Defence."
A new supply of masks was "hopefully" arriving at the pharmacy on Tuesday, Simpson said, and that it was "better to be proactive" when it came to Covid-19.
Hipkins said even though Kiwis were "the envy of much of the world" in terms of the country's Covid-19 response "we simply cannot afford to be complacent".
"Our best chance of preserving the gains that we have all made, of keeping the freedoms that we all now enjoy is to stay ever-vigilant," he said.
"It's about being ready, it's not cause for alarm."
Barbara Hawkins-Falk at the Gonville Pharmacy said it had only been in the "last 24 hours" that people had shown an increased interest in buying and stockpiling masks.
"It's just started, and someone bought a box of 50 this morning," Hawkins-Falk said.
"Last night I had emails from three different suppliers saying they had masks and hand sanitisers, so with a bit of luck it won't be as hard to get hold of stock as before."
"We want people to be safe and doing the right thing, and if everyone is open to the idea of wearing a mask then that'll go a long way to stop any potential spread."
The threat posed by a potential second wave of Covid-19 has been highlighted in Victoria, Australia, which has entered a second lockdown and ordered its residents to always wear face masks in public.
"If we move to alert level 2, the public will be encouraged to wear masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as on public transport or in shops," Hipkins said
Hipkins understood there were around 12 million masks in retail stock at the moment.
Mitre 10 Mega Whanganui owner Hayden Gibson said that he suspected there would "a bit of an influx" of inquiries about masks after Hipkins' announcement but that he hadn't seen an increase in demand as yet.
"There was a number spouted about 12 million masks in retailers and pharmacies and things like that, but whether that 12 million are actually the ones suitable for a pandemic, I'm not too sure," Gibson said.
"To be fair, It's not as easy to get hold of masks as what's been made out.
"I wouldn't want people to come in expecting boxes and boxes of masks, because that simply isn't the case."
Mindzye Fashions on Hatrick St made more than 1000 disposable masks in the week and half before lockdown, owner Sara Fredrickson said, and the company was still making up to 50 reusable masks "to order" each week.
"They have a little pocket in them where you can put a filter in, and people come in and order black or floral or whatever they want," Fredrickson said.
"I think people like having them there just in case, and a lot of people are using them when they're flying around in New Zealand or out even of the country.
Word on the street
The Chronicle took the streets of Whanganui to ask if people would be willing to wear a mask and if they were ready.
I would buy them if they were needed. I don't like masks, but if it makes sense then I would. We haven't really needed to in Whanganui, because we've had no cases.
I don't have a mask at the moment but I would definitely get a hold of one if there was another outbreak.
I don't have a problem wearing one at all. You don't want to get sick and you want to do everything you can to prevent it.
I've got them in my car because I've got emphysema and I'm at high risk.
I've worn a mask around a couple of times in the last week or so and have got some funny looks, but I just can't afford to get anything.
If the Ministry of Health said we had to wear masks, then I definitely would, but I wouldn't stockpile them because I've still got masks from the first wave.
If it keeps everyone safe, then it's an 'okay' from me.
Ramona Elizabeth Taua
I've already starting stockpiling, and we should be ready for anything, really.
It only takes one person to turn around and spread it everywhere.
It doesn't worry me at all, I suppose what I'm most concerned about it why it wasn't put in place during the first lockdown.
I'm keen to wear a mask, and I'll just go with whatever is recommended.