AN initiative by one of the UK's leading paper bag makers to support local restaurants and take-away catering businesses amid the COVID-19 crisis has been overtaken by the latest government advice to stay at home.

The Paper Bag Co, an eco bag manufacturer based in Westbury, has launched a new range of Eat Out Stay Home bags for local businesses.

But the company is now unable to produce them after

the firm's founder and managing director Jon Marling followed the latest government advice and told his 20 employees to stay at home.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a UK-wide lock-down on people going to work unless they are essential workers such as emergency services, NHS, care sector workers or working in shops such as food supermarkets.

People across the country were advised to stay home unless they had a specific reason for travelling, such as going to essential employment, shopping for food, or collecting medicines from pharmacies.

Mr Marling said: "We've had to stop production and have told everyone to stay at home, so the printers are no longer printing."

Like many Wiltshire businesses, the company he founded 14 years go in 2005 had been thinking of ways in which it could support its own employees and other local businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak across the UK.

He said: "After speaking to friends in the restaurant and catering community, it became clear that many of these businesses are now beginning to offer delivery and takeaway services.

"This move is not only to protect both staff and customers from Coronavirus, but also to ensure they keep their businesses going and keep offering the same excellent service and food whilst people remain at home.

"As a solution, Paper Bag Co created Eat Out, Stay Home bags for businesses to purchase for their delivery and takeaway food.

“We’ve created these bags and have done all that we can to keep order costs to an absolute minimum – just enough to help support our staff who will be making them here and hopefully to enable food businesses to buy as affordably as possible.”

The bags were being produced at the company's factory on the Woodlands Industrial Estate, in Eden Vale Road, Westbury.

They were designed after the Paper Bag Co team brainstormed ways to help local hospitality and catering businesses hit by government orders to stay closed during the Coronavirus crisis.

Mr Marling said that, like many local businesses, many of these companies are ultimately at risk of losing business and jobs because of the loss of trade.

He added: "We've done what we can to keep order costs to an absolute minimum when selling them to local businesses so that they can support the wider community but also help support our warehouse staff who were making them in-house."

The bags were being sold at 25p per bag for an order of between 250-2,000 but sadly the company has been forced to pull the plug on production.