Online retailer Boohoo appears to have scrapped a range of Covid-19 face masks it was marketing as fashion accessories following claims its UK workforce were being left without adequate personal protection equipment (PPE).
The range of masks, which carried phrases such as “Quarantine Queen” and “Eat, sleep, isolate, repeat”, cost just £5 but came with the disclaimer that read: “This mask is for accessory purposes only and should not be used as personal protective equipment.”
They had gone on sale last week but today there is no sign of them on the Boohoo site, although there are a number of other “fashion masks” bearing skeletons and camouflage imagery.
The Usdaw union, which represents workers at the Boohoo warehouse in Burnley, condemned the online retailer for putting staff at risk because of PPE concerns and failures to reorganise working practices to ensure necessary distancing.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said at the weekend: “We have been inundated with serious concerns from our members in the Burnley warehouse about their health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak. They are terrified they may become infected and put their loved ones at risk. Today’s news that the company is marketing fashion face masks, that experts say are absolutely no use as PPE, is a real slap in the face for our members.
“Selling fashion clothing is not essential in a period of national emergency, but selling items that look like essential equipment is downright scandalous. We share the disgust that healthcare staff have expressed in the media. At a time when they are desperate for PPE, along with many public facing staff delivering essential services, Boohoo should hang their heads in shame for this despicable stunt.
“Many other clothes manufacturers have turned away from their usual production and switched to making proper PPE items to help our heroes on the frontline of tackling the Coronavirus emergency. Boohoo is looking to make a quick profit out of a crisis, when they should be putting the national interest first by helping their staff to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Last year, the company paid the price for trying to boost email marketing open rates after incurring the wrath of the ad watchdog for using the phrase “send nudes” in the subject line to promote a range of clothes coloured to resemble skin.
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