Mandatory face masks: forcing us to be ‘safe’

Public-health zealots are now demanding that people be legally required to wear them almost everywhere.

Rob Lyons
Columnist

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The debate in the UK about face masks continues to run and run. Where once the government went along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in advising that face masks were unnecessary outside clinical settings, now the debate is about whether they should be compulsory in England beyond public transport. From last Friday, facial coverings have been compulsory when visiting shops in Scotland.

It’s odd that we’re even here. Back in March, Boris Johnson announced lockdown measures – replicated across the UK – on the grounds that the NHS was in danger of being overwhelmed by the surge of cases of Covid-19. We were basically told to go home and stay home unless our work was essential, with permission to leave only to buy essentials, like food, and to take one spell of exercise. But this was only meant to last for three weeks, when the lockdown measures would be reviewed.

Fast forward to now and, while many of the measures have been significantly softened, we are still left with a lockdown mentality. The shops, pubs, barbers, beauty parlours and restaurants have reopened – with considerable restrictions – but the schools are a mess, not even half-open. Endless warnings to be vigilant and keep our distance remain. No wonder many people are fearful of getting back to normal life.

The aim now is not to save the NHS – which coped in the end, barely using the emergency Nightingale hospitals that were prepared to take the sick when the hospitals overflowed. Instead, we must drive infections down to the point of elimination. Never mind the continuing damage to the economy and to our personal freedoms, the public-health zealots are relentless and never satisfied.

This is despite the declining threat of the disease. According to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), ‘the estimated number of people with Covid-19 in the community in England was 14,000 at any given time between 22 June and 5 July 2020 (1 in 3,900 of the community population)’. Deaths are now below the average for the time of year. And, as reports of outbreaks in Leicester and a farm in Herefordshire show, we’re getting better at identifying cases and nipping viral spread in the bud.

The desire to eradicate the disease is misplaced – it is going to be around for many years to come, rumbling along at low levels with the occasional cluster here or there, and a potential rise in cases in the colder months of the year. The best we can reasonably hope to do is take basic precautions and keep an eye out for local outbreaks, isolating those who are infected or who may be infected.

Yet the drumbeat for more public-health measures seems endless. In recent weeks, we have even had the ludicrous and divisive idea of border controls between England and Scotland, built on the myth that Scotland has done much better at controlling the pandemic than the rest of the UK. And now face masks, which everyone seems to agree – pro and anti – have, at best, a modest impact, are being touted as essential, and their use potentially enforced by law.

For those of us who have a long experience of public-health lobbyists in action, this is no big surprise. Take restrictions on smoking. Smoking rates have been in steady decline since the 1970s as the health risks of smoking became common knowledge. Yet we have seen one crusade after another: against all advertising; against smoking in ‘public’ places and workplaces; against smoking in cars carrying children; and against displaying tobacco in shops and on branding of packs.

All the while, tax rates on tobacco have gone up and up, but the effectiveness of any of these measures has gone down. Smoking rates barely changed after the smoking bans of 2006-07 – although the ban helped to drive many pubs out of business. The idea that people will give up smoking if the packs no longer feature logos and different colours is ludicrous, an insight into the low view that health campaigners have of smokers.

In the pantheon of ludicrous demands, calls for bans on smoking outdoors are perhaps the nuttiest of all. Basic physics makes clear that there is no way anyone could be exposed to a dangerous level of cigarette smoke in an open space. (The junk science on passive smoking indoors is bad enough.) Time and again, these demands have failed – for example, an attempt to ban smoking on Brighton beach. However, smoking in hospital grounds is widely banned and many workplaces – usually local authorities – have banned staff from smoking anywhere on their grounds.

Yet even this ridiculous demand is gaining traction in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. Peers in the House of Lords (aided and abetted by anti-smoking group ASH) are trying to sneak in amendments to legislation to allow councils to ban smoking in newly created outdoor drinking and dining spaces. Heaven forbid we might develop a Parisian-style ‘café culture’. As Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ rights group Forest, has pointed out, this is ‘gross opportunism by a small group of anti-smoking peers who have spotted a chance to advance their extreme anti-smoking agenda’. Plus ça change, as they say in France.

Whether it is minimum pricing for alcohol or whacking sugar levies on soft drinks, public-health campaigners and health-obsessed politicians have a long track record of using health concerns to impose ever-greater restrictions on our freedoms. Now they are at it over Covid-19. It may well be polite in certain circumstances to cover your face in a crowded place. We should be the ones to decide what is necessary. Imposing such rules by law will only encourage ever-more restrictions on freedom.

Rob Lyons is convenor of the Academy of Ideas Economy Forum.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Russ Wood

14th July 2020 at 4:49 pm

The South African ‘Coronavirus Command Council’ has banned the sale of tobacco products since March, resulting in extensive smuggling. The Council banned, then un-banned, and now banned again the sale, consumption and transport of alcoholic drinks. The bootleggers applaud. Add to that a 9 to 5 curfew, a ban on hotels for leisure, and a regulation requiring masks to be worn in all public places (backed up with a threat to prosecute shops, etc, who allowed un-masked customers. And renewing the ‘disaster’ regulations for a further month of dictatorship. With everything I have read about the virus, these regulations seem to be all about controlling the PEOPLE, not the virus!

Dave Patterson

14th July 2020 at 11:04 am

‘The idea that people will give up smoking if the packs no longer feature logos and different colours is ludicrous, an insight into the low view that health campaigners have of smokers.’ – maybe so, but also a sign of the general low intelligence of the people making such rules – people who obey Mommy and are anxious to help Mommy make the disobedient children obey her too!! are not the sort of people you look to for original or clever thinking.

Highland Fleet Lute

14th July 2020 at 10:37 am

Make no mistake, this is a ‘tanks rolling over Czechoslovakia’ moment.

Philip St. John Lewis Davies

14th July 2020 at 10:17 am

Reason now will get us nowhere. You can’t reason with the insane – those whose mental health has been compromised to the point that propitiation of idolised leadership has replaced any possible sensible precautionary principle.

There now obtains an unbreakable ‘feedback loop’ between governed and governor, whereby the anxiety and hysteria fomented in the populace by government only amplifies the government’s response ongoing, which in turn amplifies the public mass-hysteria, and so on in a downward death-spiral. Essentially, Western society is suffering a collective nervous breakdown.

This vicious, unhealthy cycle cannot now be broken until it breaks of it’s own internal necessity, as the intolerable tension of this ultimate form of ‘false consciousness’ breaks out in a scream of abandoned release, whose impact and consequences will stun and incapacitate the higher brain functions for a considerable period of time – certainly affecting all now living for the rest of their lives. A race of nervous hypochondriacs and mental valetudinarians has been created.

There is nothing for those few relatively untouched by the madness to do but prudentially conform, as the samizdat society did under the insane and inhuman Soviet Russian dictatorship. The muzzle is an unconscious symbol of this need for ‘lip-service’. Nowhere now does Western man breathe freely. Just drawing breath, and even simply obtaining the means of life in terms of our daily bread, is now only possible on sufferance. Individual rebellion would be only a futile and suicidal gesture.

It will be a long age in Hell before this immense cultural tragedy is overcome. Until then, know that everything that made civilisation worthwhile is finished, and learn to endure, or, if endurance seems equally otiose and just a mug’s game, find the means of removing oneself from this groaning Limbo of sequestered souls.

The bitter cup of personal nullification and social oblivion runneth over for us all, will ye or nil ye.

Ed Turnbull

14th July 2020 at 11:24 am

I read in your comment the despair I, until very recently, felt myself, and I hope you soon recover from it. But I must disagree: individual rebellion is *not* futile. The more individuals who rebel the greater the *collective* rebellion becomes. So, I say to all reading this: do not give in: resist, do not break, fight, tell them “no!”, in whatever way you can. Do *not* let ‘them’ win. And take satisfaction from the fact that every day *you* tell them “no” you’ve scored a victory.

Philip St. John Lewis Davies

14th July 2020 at 1:06 pm

Your sympathetic response is very much appreciated. But don’t worry: the stubborn life-force has a momentum of it’s own!

And the ‘samizdat’ I do reference obviously implies a persistence, under the guise of conformity, that remains internally determined not to yield. Unfortunately, this meant for tens of millions of Russians the most radical – that is, psychological – ‘internal exile’. Therefore I regret to say that our ‘No’ is going to be at best a silent one, that falls on censorious ears. We can shout ‘NO!’ at the top of our voices, but it won’t be listened to.

Practical effects of disagreement – as under the Inquisition – will tend to be only unpleasant ones, and visited upon the heretic. So the consolation of knowing that one is keeping faith with something other than the Great Lie is a cold comfort indeed. It is more like martyrdom – and that a meaninglessly anonymous one. Our graves will keep safe the secret that life suddenly became a complete sham.

But nostalgia for a better world will still warm me in it’s afterglow. I’ll sit on for a little while, before I go to my rest. There’s no virtue in staying awake through the night, after all. It won’t improve the morning. That will be the same sad day it became when real life stopped, and a Shadow took it’s place.

Michael Morgan

14th July 2020 at 10:14 am

I’ve bought bandanas for such occasions. They are easily pulled down/up and if there is no one around on public transport it is there just keeping my neck warm. I won’t be visiting any unnecessary shops if I need to wear a face covering. It is as simple as that. My local pub has ruined the experience of going there – app for booking a table, ordering and pay for drinks and you sit in an empty ‘warehouse’ due to social distancing. All for a virus that won’t go away. We need to learn to live with this virus but with a balance of what people will find comfortable and without ruining the economy anymore.

Ed Turnbull

14th July 2020 at 9:57 am

Regarding mandatory mask wearing the words of Bruce Willis’ character ‘James Cole’, in the fabulous movie ’12 Monkeys’ spring to mind:

This part was never about the virus. It’s about following orders, about doing what you’re told.

I’m in Scotland and we’ve been under the yoke since July 10th. My and I have health conditions we believe confer exemption from mask wearing, and have refused to wear them at all. Yesterday, however, my wife did have to explain this to a shopworker who enquired why she was maskless, whereupon the shopworker opined it was a pity my wife couldn’t wear a badge to indicate her exemption. One can’t help but wonder if a yellow Star of David is what the shopworker had in mind…

Resist in what ever way you can and do not go gentle into that good night. Remember: you only have to say “no” one more time than they demand “yes” and you win.

Andrew Levens

14th July 2020 at 9:41 am

I agree with the comments about smoking. But we no longer smoke in public places. the wearing of masks in shops is now law. what do you want to do? Constantly argue with shopkeepers? Too many people think they can make their own rules these days about what we should do or think or say. I say, as a basic rule, obey the law and if you don’t like it, write to your MP.

Highland Fleet Lute

14th July 2020 at 9:28 am

“UK govt rules muzzles mandatory for going to the shops, instructs police to issue fines for non-compliance.”

Bite this: There’s no further point in squabbling over issues to do with masks, social distancing, Covid 19 figures or any other distractory bullshit. Nor is there any point in continuing being kind to Mr Johnson because of the ‘fat chance’ of a Brexit.

Writing on the wall just over from Spain…

“Spanish govt issues decree: Wearing muzzles in public to remain compulsory ‘until Covid-19 vaccine found’ (i.e. indefinitely)” https://www.spainenglish.com/2020/06/09/face-masks-spain-compulsory-new-normality/

Game. set, match.

Andrew Levens

14th July 2020 at 9:32 am

Absolutely. Move on.

Eric Praline

14th July 2020 at 10:20 am

Outrageous, we might never find a vaccine.

Highland Fleet Lute

14th July 2020 at 11:06 am

Vaccine. HAHAHAHAH.

Look pal, just roll up your sleeve and take your mandatory 666 tattoo like a good boy.

Gareth Edward KING

14th July 2020 at 11:07 am

In the virus family Coronoviridae there are about 11 ‘species’ the commonest of which causes gastro-enteritis; none of them have a vaccine available, and there’s no reason why Covid-19 should be any different. It’s just an excuse for social control, they’ve got us by the shorts and curlies.

Gareth Edward KING

14th July 2020 at 11:01 am

Well, even so, I hardly ever put the muzzle on as I realised a long time ago that it’s literally impossible to enforce. There are plenty of poor sad souls that do though. And in this heat! As I’ve hinted at before on this forum. Spain’s ‘used to’ dictatorships: 1939-77 (Franco; then first free elections in Jun. 77); it then joined the EEC in 1986: it’s used to being told what is to be done. The schools have been barely open in the country since March, it’s as if education doesn’t matter. As from September it’ll be ‘Covid propaganda’ all the way being meshed in with other subjects as children are expected to sit there ‘socially distanced’ and with muzzles on! Franco eat your heart out!

Eric Praline

14th July 2020 at 9:03 am

Too late. In two days the government has gone from we’re not going to make masks mandatory, we trust people’s common sense, to £100 fine if you don’t wear them in a shop (but we’re going to wait a week before enforcing).

Michael Morgan

14th July 2020 at 11:46 am

I never get the notice period also. The government makes changes to how many people/households you can meet but gives a week’s notice. As if most people are abiding by this nonsense anyway. When they see the effect face masks have on the retail figures there will be another u-turn. It’s what this government is known for.

Jerry Owen

14th July 2020 at 8:33 am

I do not believe there is a pandemic.
However if we are to take the wearing of a face covering as scientifically proven which it isn’t, then we have the presume the masks themselves become ‘infected’ with the virus.
I can’t help but notice that all the people that wear them in the shops are always adjusting or fiddling with them. They then touch food products without necessarily putting them in their trolley. To me this theoretically is more likely to spread the alleged pandemic of covid 19.
This whole thing is about control, studies in the past have concluded that you can control people easier by making them wear a face mask. It is dehumanising and takes away your personal autonomy and independence, you become one of the herd, the herd being mostly compliant with government control.
Good article, and despite never having smoked I agree with the points raised on smoking.

D G

14th July 2020 at 9:15 am

We’re well over 100 days into lockdown now, so there is experience to draw on. Most supermarket staff have not been masked, and neither have most of their customers.
So it’s time to ask; have real-life shop workers suffered higher levels of infection? If not, why is it time for masks now?

D G

14th July 2020 at 9:18 am

We’re one hundred and thirteen days into lockdown now, so there is experience to draw on. Most supermarket staff have not been masked, and neither have most of their customers.
So it’s time to ask; have real-life shop workers suffered higher levels of infection? If not, why is it time for masks now?

Andrew Levens

14th July 2020 at 9:35 am

You don’t believe there is a pandemic. With one phrase you completely destroy the credibility of what follows in your post.

Mark Houghton

14th July 2020 at 9:52 am

Define ‘pandemic’ and then provide your evidence that this is one.

Jerry Owen

14th July 2020 at 10:38 am

There was now there isn’t.
See what I did there ?

Jerry Owen

14th July 2020 at 10:40 am

I am speaking as ‘Devil’s advocate’ I believe there is no pandemic now but if there was… My point is valid.

Gareth Edward KING

14th July 2020 at 11:16 am

Absolutely! Face masks are to be used in limited circumstances only: hospitals, laboratories and the like. Last summer I expected my students to put them on as I gave a micro-biology session! If you wear one you’re going to be fiddling with it all day; in fact, they’re supposed to be changed at least three times in a day! No-one follows the procedure, but why should they? They’re not micro-biologists! But that’s just the point! There are plenty who wear them as fashion accessories which they are most certainly not! They shouldn’t be worn except in very limited circumstances-period. The fact that they are put on and because their health value is non-existent, their only use is social subjugation-period.

Paul Apple

14th July 2020 at 6:56 am

I don’t see any issue. All you whingers will soon get used to it and shut up.

My issue is with the right of the minority to breathe cigarette smoke onto the majority anywhere.

Alan Vaughn

14th July 2020 at 1:07 am

“Never mind the continuing damage to the economy and to our personal freedoms, the public-health zealots are relentless and never satisfied.”
Because they’re Marxist zealots, not public health zealots. They don’t give a toss about anyone’s health but only want to CONTROL everyone and everything we do, even what we’re allowed to say and think, using this massive panic-demic hoax as their control lever.
Wake up everyone! We’re being played..

Stephen Kennedy

14th July 2020 at 12:53 am

Many, if not most of the people who died during the epidemic, were elderly/sick that were killed by the lockdown. Is it any wonder that when people panic, they make things worse? If you look at the weekly, total deaths, which is just about the only statistic that is not subject to political bias (I’ve done this for the US), you see an unremarkable rise in deaths, the same as every Winter (and less pronounced than the flu outbreak caused in 2017/8), and then the lockdown started in late March, and deaths headed straight up in a way that is not typical of a respiratory outbreak. That death rate has plummeted almost as fast, and is quickly heading down significantly below normal Summer levels. Why? We killed off all the vulnerable people who were going to die over the next 6 months in a few weeks. This is not on a par with the idiocy of War, or radical revolutions, but it is up there.

Ness Immersion

13th July 2020 at 10:15 pm

Just watched the BC lying to support the govt agenda, saying there is some evidence that home.made masks work.
Not so according to RCT studies:
https://www.sott.net/article/434796-The-Science-is-Conclusive-Masks-and-Respirators-do-NOT-Prevent-Transmission-of-Viruses

jamie murray

14th July 2020 at 9:16 am

Kudos for being able to watch bbc “news”, i can’t listen to it for even a second, the anger levels and vomit reflex are immediately stimulated. Not helped by being forced to pay for something i never watch!.

Highland Fleet Lute

13th July 2020 at 9:09 pm

It’s time to square up to the truth. There never was a pandemic. They’re never going to get rid of the lockdown.

Hasting Keith

13th July 2020 at 8:14 pm

The latest Government strategy: Lately, we have been easing the lockdown because people have … err… been ignoring the lockdown. We have allowed people to meet with their extended family and close friends, and to have a BBQ in their back garden because… err … they have been doing so for the last several weeks. Apparently, the Oiks think that they can make rational judgements about such things (without our authority!) and think that if they wash their hands enough and practice a sensible amount of antisocial distancing that everything will be OK. But recently this has got out of hand. All those people thinking that it would be nice to go to the beach on a hot summer’s day or have a bit of a riot in the City – that is totally out of order. They are obviously not scared enough of catching this virus for their own good. So if we can’t make them scared of the virus, we will make them scared of each other. Despite the fact that we originally said that the virus was mainly spread by infected surfaces and the best form of control was all about hand washing and sanitisation, and despite the fact that there is little or no evidence that facemasks help, we will make them scared of each other’s breath – their horrible, fetid, Oikish breath that spreads plague and pestilence. We will make them wear facemasks, and if they refuse they will not be able to enter a shop to buy food and will starve to death. That will keep the buggers locked down. The Oiks will be scared of meeting other Oiks, or coming anywhere close to them, and then they won’t want to go to the beaches or the pubs or to meet each other in their garden or on the street, because they will be scared of each other. Then we will have achieved our policy.

James Knight

13th July 2020 at 7:45 pm

The whole debate about masks has been another nail in the coffin to the credibility of experts. They are doing a U -turn and coming up with “evidence” they are effective, right at the point we are well past the peak of the epidemic. Previously the public were advised not to bother and screeched at by journalists for depriving health workers of masks. Now many want to make them mandatory.

Science is bought into public disrepute due to an inability for experts to be honest with the public. The cynicism they have created should not be under-estimated. It will fuel cranks like anti-vaxers while the “experts” will blame social media disinformation and a gullible public rather than own up to their own lies.

Ben Shirley

13th July 2020 at 7:41 pm

This mask-wearing debate brings to mind the arguments given for and against pornography. The ‘for’ argument is straightforward, i.e. I am an individual soul, I own my body so it is mine to do with as I please.

The argument against goes something like: I am an individual soul, my body is the physical incarnation of my soul, therefore what is done to my body is done to my soul. This then goes on to argue that certain actions taken with one’s body, e.g. posing provocatively for some jazz mag or starring in a blue film, have an intrinsic impact on the soul, causing it to harden and lose moral sense.

Where masks are concerned, it doesn’t really matter which of those points you take to be correct. With the first view, compulsory mask-wearing amounts to damage to property. With the second, it is an all-out denial of an individual’s humanity.

When a person wears a mask, their speech is stifled and their facial expressions cannot be read – you cannot even communicate dissent with a frown. What’s more, it sets a precedent. When a person puts a mask on for the first time, they endorse their servitude to a fantastical agenda with no moral, philosophical or scientific authority and deny themselves the basic principle of an individual identity.

Me? Oh dear, I seem to feel a bad case of asthma coming on…

Daniel Lisowski

14th July 2020 at 9:44 am

When a person puts a mask on for the first time, they endorse their servitude to a fantastical agenda with no moral, philosophical or scientific authority and deny themselves the basic principle of an individual identity.

I think this sums up my feelings perfectly.

Oregon Dissenter

13th July 2020 at 7:01 pm

It’s been well established that the masks have no protective value but full value as a signal of compliance. But if they hurt you, then they cannot be compulsory. We know masks make you rebreathe your own exhaled air, leading to hypercapnia and a prolonged recovery, and that their oxygen deprivation can hurt your immune response as well as cause serious cognitive impairment. But is there a more serious side effect? A potentially fatal one? Yes. I have a report currently on my blog homepage. dissentersandskepticsoforegon . wordpress . com. Would a higher court ban compulsory masking if they knew masks could be lethal to millions of us? Perhaps my hope that the answer is “yes” indicates an unrealistic assessment of the government’s intentions to “protect” us.

James Knight

13th July 2020 at 7:34 pm

You’d better alert health workers and tell those on covid wards to avoid using masks. Feel free to work on a covid ward yourself without PPE.

Ellen Whitaker

13th July 2020 at 6:18 pm

I have mixed feeling about masks. They don’t protect the wearer very well, but do protect others somewhat from the wearer, if the wearer happens to be infected, but doesn’t know it. I can live with masks, as long as we’re not required to wear them outside, in conditions where it’s easy to maintain distance (or, conceivably alone, at our desks, when no one else is close). I see people jogging outside, with masks, looking miserable, when there are no people around them. These people have no rationale for what they’re doing, and it’s a short step to people like that (dim bulbs) insisting and everyone where masks all the time, because it makes then feel safer. Masks are more compatible with economic recovery than is the 6 ft./2 meter distancing rule.

Gareth Edward KING

14th July 2020 at 11:31 am

They offer zero protection to the wearer except in specific circumstances i.e. that there’s a likelihood of being sprayed with viral particles, which in an open space is practically impossible. Also, viruses are ‘killed’ by UV light. Doing sport one should never, ever wear a face covering. It’s basic science: taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide both processes are impeded wearing a muzzle. It’s akin to suffocating the slow way. Under specific circumstances if they need to be worn their use has to be tightly controlled. It’s really a course worth of stuff: one course for each type of mask. Anybody would think that they were toys!

Dave Angel

13th July 2020 at 6:10 pm

Nonsense. Masks help protect the wearer, those around the wearer those the wear and those around them go on to be near in the coming days. This has been known for months and was only ducked by Doris because he failed to secure adequate PPE in time due to his dithering incompetence.

When there is a deadly virus that can be spread by asymptomatic carriers, it is simple common sense to drive down cases as far and as quickly as possible to enable a rapid and safe return to work.

There will be those libertarians around who don’t want seat belt laws, smoking restrictions, support PIE, etc, etc – heck, let’s just have anarchy! No. Sorry. Your freedom to act irresponsibly does not trump my freedom to visit shops and other public places without some contrary fantasist coughing all over me and my loved ones.

If you want the freedom of savages, fine – go and live in the wilderness, far away from civilisation. Being part of a civilised society involves responsibilities, as well as rights.

Come on, it’s only a mask, be brave!

Dave Angel

13th July 2020 at 6:11 pm

Great, no editing of typos allowed on this forum? Back to the DT and Conservative Woman for me.

D G

13th July 2020 at 6:20 pm

Do the supermarket staff have a higher rate of infection after 3 months of facing unmasked shoppers?

Jim Lawrie

13th July 2020 at 7:15 pm

A mask concentrates the exhaled virus onto the fabric. It protects others only if the wearer never touches it except to don it at and remove it on their return. The instruction to use them is the same as the one not to touch your face.

The epidemic is tailing off. The danger is gone. The population are immune.

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 7:47 pm

C’mon,be brave, it’s only a flu virus hyped up to hysteria level 11, lets just crack on as normal and if anyone wants to get ppe’d up for every little trip to the shops then crack on, and those that don’t, well perhaps we could have different shopping times for mask wearers and non wearers, so then we’re all catered for.

James Knight

13th July 2020 at 7:56 pm

The key point is we shut down a huge chunk of the global economy with the lockdown strategy. If the lockdown were a drug it would never have got through the rigours of evidence-based medicine due to the dangerous adverse effects and astronomical economic cost. Yet when the issue of masks was raised it was a case “where’s the evidence?”. So you can put 1.5 billion people out of a job without compelling evidence, but if you suggest a mask that costs pennies experts would pour cold water over it and pretend it was due to lack of hard evidence when it was naked political cynicism.

It is as crass and cynical as the recent academic and media claim that the BLM protests would in fact reduce the spread of covid19.

Gareth Edward KING

15th July 2020 at 10:07 am

As Peter Hitchens has mentioned several times: the supposed ‘cure’ is worse than the actual disease. There’s nothing ‘deadly’ about Covid-19 infection. ‘Deadly’ suggests a high mortality rate which according to the University of Bonn’s virology team and their study of c. 900 patients, with the same or similar demographics as the UK, the mortality rate was a mere 0.06%. The ‘problem’ is totally political: if 82% of fatalities in Spain (till May) were aged over 70 and with underlying morbidities, why shut down the whole country? Imagine for a moment that instead of being fatal for the elderly ill it went for a younger age cohort; yes, it would then be certainly deadly. Most flu viruses do indeed either lay low the young or the senescent; so all this fuss, for what?

Gareth Edward KING

13th July 2020 at 5:56 pm

Welcome to the world of compulsory mask wearing! In Madrid, I’d say that 99% wear them in the street, whilst plenty are kitted out in latex gloves, and the real hypochondriacs have plastic visors on! It’s total obedience. In today’s El Mundo an article suggests that people are staying away from the capital if they can at all help it. The capital city’s turning into a ghost town and for what reason? 24 billion Euros have been lost from regional GDP (6.1 million people) since March due in no small part to the hysteria over Covid-19. People are afraid to go to work (they’ll gladly telework), use the Metro, shop, go to the cinema or theatre; the main square (Plza Mayor) is deserted and it’s not due to the suffocating heat; locals are away from the capital but they’ve not been replaced by tourists. Who’d want to come here anyway to this city where the palpable fear could be cut with a knife? There’s no sense of proportion to the alleged risk. People need to grow a pair; I, for one, have no sympathy with these scaredy-cats. They get what they deserve.

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 7:55 pm

You are not alone in feeling exasperated, i’m currently arguing with my wife as i refuse to wear a muzzle and she thinks i should just do “as i am told”. If that last statement doesn’t make people stop and think about the subjugation involved in being made to wear a muzzle then what would?

Hasting Keith

13th July 2020 at 8:52 pm

I am guessing that a lot of Madrillenos are heading out of the city for their summer break a bit earlier this year. In which case, they won’t find life any easier, at least in Murcia. The Murcian Government has announced a 100 Euro on the spot fine for not wearing a facemask. Even more bizarrely, they have announced that facemasks must be worn when going to the toilet (murciatoday.com/100-euro-fine-for-not-wearing-a-mask-in-murcia-region-from-now-on_1470611-a.html). I know it’s a pig farming region, but even so.

Ex Pom

14th July 2020 at 2:11 am

Facemasks are like trying to keep out midgies out of your garden with an open-link chain fence – totally and utterly futile. The real issue here is Social Control, bullying, domination and bossing people about. Ask Georgii S who instigated this whole thing.

D G

13th July 2020 at 5:24 pm

We’re well over 100 days into lockdown now, so there is experience to draw on. Most supermarket staff have not been masked, and neither have most of their customers.
So it’s time to ask; have real-life shop workers suffered higher levels of infection? If not, why is it time for masks now?

Linda Payne

13th July 2020 at 5:20 pm

They can fuck off I’m not wearing one

Jonathan Marshall

13th July 2020 at 5:16 pm

Masks are vile, horrible and totally inhuman.
I’m not going to wear one – ever.

Gareth Hart

13th July 2020 at 4:53 pm

The rhetoric that Boris is making around masks is deeply concerning to me. He talks of a “culture change” which goes well beyond a pandemic response but rather a permanent change. The media incorrectly report that Boris wants to make people wear them in shops – and only shops. Not the case. The Government, SAGE and WHO are under pressure to recommend or implement mandatory wearing everywhere from scientists and other vested interests. I’ve seen calls that masks have zero effect on oxygen intake and that the exemptions we have should go. Boris must know the UK’s response has been an omnishambles so to come off as a strong and decisive leader, he wants to be a world leader in masks, I bet kids will be wearing them come the school’s going back in September, we may even be forced to wear them in our own homes in the near future, our noses and mouths treated like genitalia and enforced with the help of curtain twitchers and informants.

Hasting Keith

13th July 2020 at 8:24 pm

I like the “noses and mouths treated like genitalia” point. The whole point of facemasks is to make us think that other people’s breath is disgusting and disease ridden, just like the ‘Victorian’ attitude to genitalia. Think of this when you are next in the supermarket queue and comparing the mask wearers with the non-mask wearers. Who do you reckon are the prudes, and who do you reckon you could have a good time with?

Gareth Edward KING

14th July 2020 at 11:41 am

I agree totally. It’s a puritanical move akin to wearing condoms mandatorily-in line with your comments on ‘genitalia’. People are either misanthropes or seriously mis-informed; I refer to those who squirm as you walk pass them on the pavement, and are hysterical enough to actually prefer to walk in the road than on the pavement. Considering the likelihood of being run over in Madrid city runs at about 260 a month with 200 dead! I’d say that the traffic is the greater problem. I have no sympathy with fear-ridden numbskulls suffering from a bad case of neuroticism. They deserve what’s coming.

Jim Lawrie

14th July 2020 at 11:57 am

He is also proposing national exercise classes a la 1984.

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 4:15 pm

We as a country, and the wider world, have fallen prey to a level of fear and hysteria most of us thought impossible, it long ago ceased to be amusing, it is now quite sinister and dark. There is quite clearly an agenda behind this. I don’t claim to know who, what or why, but please don’t insult my intelligence and tell me this really is because of a virus slightly more dangerous than the flu. If i wasn’t overly concerned before, i am now. And by the by, my asthmatic wife had suspected covid in February and nearly died, but she was in a very vulnerable class of people, most will barely know they’ve got it, still don’t think society as we know it should be changed beyond all recognition though!

Jim Lawrie

13th July 2020 at 4:13 pm

Due to absenteeism the staff in our local Aldi have worked long hours for the last 4 months. They almost never wear masks and none have succumbed. You’d think given all that time and opportunity they would have done a better job of getting infected.
The wee boy next door to me, now 22 months old, has not been isolated from anyone, and has come on far better than the two wee girls in the next house, whose mum insists on 4 meters, just to be sure.

Tracy Jones

13th July 2020 at 3:52 pm

So is the Government in effect now telling the people of the Uk conform and follow our demands to cover your face or you will be denied the ability to purchase food. I have asked the very same question in a letter to my MP Nadim Zahawi I am yet to receive an acknowledgement or response.
Are we as a nation happy to say to those who will not cover their faces (we have had 4 months under lockdown when this was not required) you are unable to buy food from a shop to feed yourself unless you comply with this directive. Please no “get a delivery”, there are no deliveries avaialble for months they are all taken.

Gareth Hart

13th July 2020 at 4:44 pm

Until the Government quickly close that loophole and mandate that anyone accepting a delivery is required to wear a covering.

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Deplorables — a spiked film