Wearing masks in shops, banks, and enclosed public spaces became compulsory here on Friday.
I had a lot of experience with the disposable surgical-style masks when I was an EMT, and I doubt their effectiveness after wearing them for even a few minutes. It should also be remembered that they are worn to protect others, not the wearer.
But that’s not the point.
The government here dragged its heels on ordering the wearing of masks, resulting in many people questioning the point of issuing the instruction now that infection rates are low. This escalated into a smattering of ‘Anti-Mask’ movements springing up here.
And that’s not the point either.
Then some of the largest supermarkets, cafe chains, and retail chains announced that they would not be ‘policing’ the wearing of masks in their establishments. With the real police unlikely to consider it serious enough to intervene, and being too busy anyway, it seems to be a toothless law that is unlikey to ever see any of the £100 fines being imposed or collected.
That’s still not the point.
The point is, why not? Why not just wear one? It doesn’t hurt for the short time you are in a shop, and if nothing else, it reassures the others around you. I just bought a packet of five well-made washable masks from Amazon for not much more than £1 each, so price is not an issue. Some shops are even offering to provide free disposable masks for customers attempting to enter the shop without one.
In one supermarket I visited on Friday afternoon, every single customer was wearing one. Yes, mine made my glasses steam up a bit, but so what? I could still see. I didn’t stand at the bread counter thinking my civil liberties had been abandoned, and I was able to converse with the checkout lady who sat safe behind her perspex screen.
It may solve nothing, and may not even stop me getting the virus. But it might help stop a second wave, or at least reduce the effect of one. It might just work, so has to be worth trying. So if you are still undecided about wearing a mask when you go shopping, then stop overthinking it.
Just wear one.