SHOPPERS must wear face coverings in supermarkets and other shops in England from today (Friday) in the latest phase of the Government’s approach to keeping the Coronavirus under control.
Observer editor Rob George shares his own ‘misty-eyed’ experience of life behind the mask.
WHEN it comes to face masks I’m completely neutral. I’ve never understood the rampant desire for everyone to look like Dick Turpin nor the huge anger at being ‘forced’ to wear one and the alleged end to our freedoms such a move would entail.
During this pandemic working from home to earn a living, my wife home schooling our son and how I would pay my bills have been way ahead at the top of my priorities list rather than worry about some fabric around my face.
Therefore when the Prime Minister announced face masks would be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from July 24 I probably joined many of you in shrugging my shoulders and saying ‘OK better sort some out then.’
Having ordered a pack from a well-known online business, my actual first experience was in Bromsgrove’s Minor Injuries Unit having hurt my foot. Having limped in oblivious to the pack of face masks and sanitiser next to the entrance I was firmly, and rightly, asked to limp back and put one on.
First impressions? Good luck to all glasses wearers! Get used to some foggy July and August days as when you breathe your glasses steam up. I’m working through some of the ‘face masks hacks’ to alleviate the problem but at the time of writing nothing works.
At the weekend I braved the shops with one of my ordered face masks for the first time. I’ve news for anyone who thinks they will be suddenly centre of attention in Asda and Sainsbury’s – no one cares.
Yes I got a few looks and smiles, when you have a cow face mask it’s bound to cause some reaction! But the amount of people now wearing them it’s almost second nature to many of us.
Personally I have found shopping a little nerve-racking during the pandemic because my loved ones are all in at risk categories, either with weakened immune systems or aged over 70.
You may think it daft but having a face mask gave me a little more confidence to spend slightly longer shopping, all the time observing social distancing. Apart from the glasses steaming up it really was no issue at all.
I accept the science is not 100 per cent, but I would argue nothing in science can ever be that reliable. Surely some fabric on your face is a suitable price to pay for going back to as near normal as we can get in this COVID-19 world?
Would I wear one forever? No of course not, as humans we thrive on interaction with other people and the joy of making someone smile will be lost when our expressions are hidden.
But Coronavirus will not be with us forever, this week has revealed a vaccine being developed at Oxford University is making excellent progress in the fight against this pandemic which has claimed so many lives
So while us glasses-wearers will have to remain ‘misty-eyed’ for the foreseeable future, at least it’s not just Dick Turpin that wore a mask.