A VENDING machine has been set up to dispense PPE in a shopping arcade.

The company behind the device at the Swan Walk shopping centre in Horsham says it is among the first of its kind in the country.

The machine is stocked with respirator face masks, face coverings, hand gel and antibacterial wipes.

Masks are now compulsory on public transport in England to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. The Government says people should also wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

The Argus:

The company RapidPPE2go said its new vending machine is designed to help people stay safe.

Tristan Matthews, who runs the firm with business partner Lauren Lehane, said: “The idea came about when Lauren noticed an abundance of people getting on to public transport and going about their daily activities without any face coverings, before these were made compulsory on public transport, potentially spreading the virus.

“We wanted to find a way to drive down the R number as quickly as possible. We saw face masks and hand sanitiser vending machines as an innovative and effective way of doing this.

The Argus:

“We want to make masks easily accessible, convenient and cost effective for as many people as possible.”

He said the company’s plan was to build a “network of reputable suppliers” to “provide the highest quality product as the most affordable price possible”.

Coronavirus is spread when droplets are sprayed into the air when those infected with the virus talk, cough or sneeze.

Those droplets can then fall on surfaces.

According to the Government, evidence suggests wearing a face covering does not protect the wearer. But if someone wearing a mask is infected and has not yet developed symptoms, a mask may provide some protection for the people they come into close contact with.

The Argus:

The machine is filled with KN95 respirator face masks, neoprene respiratory face masks, three-ply disposable protective face masks, SaniHands antibacterial hand wipes and Dettol antibacterial Aloe Vera hand gel in 50ml bottles.

There are also patterned washable masks with filters.

The company said it will roll out the vending machines across more shopping centres and public spaces across the country if the scheme is a success.