Face mask sellers have been inundated with requests as shoppers across the country prepare for face coverings to be made essential in stores.

Business has boomed for the local people making, customising, and selling reusable face masks since the government announced their plans to make facial coverings essential from July 24.

Shoppers could be hit with fines of up to £100 if they are caught without one, and many people have turned to local businesses to ensure they are covered.

Lauren Connis, who runs Handmade Crafts Horwich, has been making masks with her partner Sam since April, but the pair have seen trade pick up over the last few weeks.

She said: “We started out just making them for friends and family – we just wanted a bit of a project because we were a bit bored.

“Then when they were made mandatory on public transport we had a few more people getting in touch who wanted one.

“I’ve sent a few out to other places but it’s mainly just been people around Horwich – a lot of local people have supported us which is lovely.

“What’s really nice is that we’ve had people come back and order a few times to give some to their friends or family members.

“People obviously like them, and I’ve had a few people say that the masks make them feel happier and more confident going out.”

Miss Connis has also been donating some of her masks to Cancer Research volunteers, to give them something “a little nicer” to wear than the disposable masks.

Face coverings were made compulsory for all passengers on public transport on June 15.

People with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11 were made exempt from the rule, which could see non-compliant people refused travel or fined £100.

The rules do not apply to school transport, taxis and private hire vehicles, but Uber and other taxi firms have told passengers that they cannot travel without a face covering.

As many people continue to work from home, or avoid public transport when they do leave the house, most people were not affected by the previous change, meaning many did not own a mask.

Vikki Wesley, who runs the customisation business Bespoke Joys, made the decision to offer personalised face masks just hours before the new rules were announced.

She said: “I literally put up a post about them on Monday night, someone asked me to do personalised face masks and it made a lot of sense.

“I’m a family of five so if we’ve all got one and they’re all the same colour then you don’t know whose is whose but with names or initials you can easily differentiate and hand them out quickly.

“The washable masks are so much better than the throwaway ones, they’re much more comfortable to wear and a lot better for the environment too.

“Each mask comes from my supplier and they’re sold with all the information on them so people know exactly what they need to.”

Visit www.handmadecraftshorwich.com, or the Handmade Crafts Horwich Facebook page, or the Bespoke Joys Facebook page for more information on their products and to order a mask.