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Shropshire Star comment: Masks are a must

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

There’s a simple argument in favour of wearing masks in shops. It is this. If nurses can wear full face masks for 13 hour shifts in temperatures of 30C on busy wards while saving lives, then we can reasonably be expected to wear them while shopping for groceries. Simple, right?

Face masks are a must

Yes, there’s an argument that masks disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable, where cost is an issue. Similarly, they may have a negative effect on non-essential retail, where shopping becomes less desirable as shoppers feel less comfortable. Then there are the blurred lines: why do shoppers need to wear them when staff in restaurants do not?

But let’s cut through. Masks are not muzzles. They do not infringe our human rights. Rather, they are a badge that prove our consideration for others. Seat belts, drink driving laws and speed limits keep us safe. People who break those laws aren’t freedom fighters; they are selfish and irresponsible for putting other lives at risk. There is little difference between those laws and wearing masks.

It’s important to remain informed by the science, while also remembering that many people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic, which is to say, they have no symptoms yet can spread the disease.

The risk of transmission from a carrier without a mask to a healthy person without a mask is extremely high. The risk of transmission from a carrier without a mask to a healthy person with a mask is moderately high. The risk from a carrier with a mask to a healthy person without a mask is low. The risk of transmission from a carrier with a mask to a healthy person with a mask is very low. The case is unarguable.

The questions are not so much surrounding masks – we must wear them, to protect ourselves and each other – they are around Government messaging and responsiveness. Why is there a 10-day grace period when lockdown was introduced overnight? Why was the decision not made sooner? Why has the Government been so slow to adopt masks when data has been available for months and why have the messages been mixed?

The biggest driver of whether or not we see waves of ever-deepening recessions will be whether or not we have a second wave of infection. Masks can save lives and jobs. It really is that simple.

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