‘Wearing a mask is a small price to pay for reducing the spread of coronavirus’
PUBLISHED: 10:54 01 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:54 01 August 2020
Face masks have become mandatory in shops, takeaways and cafes, having already been compulsory on public transport for a number of weeks.
And I for one am relieved.
Not only does this rule allow for more consistency and clarity as to whether we should wear face masks or not, it seems as if our government are now listening to the advice of doctors and scientists.
Our politicians have finally started to show some degree of leadership, rather than backing away from all responsibility – in other words they are actually doing their job.
In this rather scary and confusing time it is a comfort to feel like there are some guidelines in place to help protect us.
Critics have voiced their concern over the restrictions these rules will impose on our lives, when really this more ordered approach is far more likely to get us out of this mess and back to our pre-coronavirus existence as quickly as possible.
If there is any way that masks might reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading and protect us from infection, why would we not wear them?
People have been complaining about the inconvenience, supposedly not being able to breathe – this has been thoroughly disproved by the doctor who went for a 22-mile run wearing a face mask to demonstrate they do not significantly affect oxygen levels.
Ask anyone who has been on a ventilator and they will confirm that is far more unpleasant with regards to breathing.
Plus the masks that are available to buy on the high street are not skin-tight, therefore air can escape and you should be able to breathe in fresh air as normal rather than the recycled air trapped in your mask, as some have suggested.
Our safety is the top priority of every medical professional in the country, who have been subjected to full PPE since the pandemic began (another far less comfortable experience than our face masks).
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To ignore their advice when they have been at the front line of COVID 19 and seen the damage it can cause simply makes no sense.
It implies a wilful ignorance of the rules, as if we shouldn’t have to follow them if we don’t like them. Sadly I doubt that the coronavirus particles in the atmosphere really care that much about our personal boundaries.
It should at this point be stressed that masks are not a perfect solution and can create more problems for certain individuals, for instance those with hearing loss who rely on lip reading to follow conversations. But even if most of us are wearing face masks that could make a huge difference to how frequently the infection is passed on, and also helping those who have to be exempt from the rules.
Back at the beginning of lockdown people grumbled about having their freedom curtailed, yet soon it became the norm.
It won’t be long before we stop questioning wearing face masks and accept it as part of our new reality.
When seatbelts in cars were made compulsory it was initially unpopular; now no one thinks twice about strapping in, particularly once it became clear that they vastly improved our safety when travelling by car. Seeing the majority of the public masking up and getting on with it should provide encouragement to those with doubts.
It isn’t the ideal way to live, but nothing about this outbreak has been ideal.
It isn’t fair that key workers have been kept apart from their loved ones in order to prevent passing on the disease. It isn’t fair that coronavirus victims have died scared and alone because no one could be with them at the end.
If all that you have to complain about is that you don’t like wearing a mask when you go out to do your shopping, you should consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
These new rules are still not watertight, as many authorities do not have the power to fully enforce them. It is unlikely anyone will get in serious trouble for not wearing one, but it does come across as selfish, and frankly childish, to not do something that could help lower transmission rates and shield more vulnerable members of the population.
Plus there are bigger problems to consider.
As lockdown restrictions are being lifted and we are able to go out and mix with each other more, it is important to remember that this pandemic is far from over. There are still warnings of a potential second wave, with the chilling possibility that we will be sent straight back into full on lockdown once the cold weather and flu season start to bite.
By sticking to the quarantine rules over the past few months we have earned the right to enjoy our summer of freedom – and having to wear a mask to do so seems a pretty small price to pay. Just a few weeks ago we were taking to the streets and applauding our key workers to show how grateful we were for their sacrifices, so now let’s show them we meant it.
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