Thought For Thursday. 13/08/20

Today I thought I would add my opinion into the mix, my opinion on wearing face coverings. Although it isn’t a new subject, it remains controversial for a number of reasons.

On the whole I agree that face coverings should be worn when in highly populated areas, such as shops, hospitals, even pubs – the latter is one area where here, in England, you are not required to wear one.

I must admit that baffles me. Obviously, you couldn’t wear a face-covering whilst eating or drinking, but I do believe you should wear one as you enter the establishment, and if you use the restroom, and upon leaving. To my knowledge as it stands right now, this is not a requirement, the Government guidance suggests it is up to each establishment whether they ask customers to wear a mask until they are eating or drinking.

The debate rattles on about which masks work, and which don’t, which may cause you to be more at risk, and which masks are beneficial to those who have breathing problems.

It is the latter I want to discuss.

Do we, the ordinary people – so not law enforcement officers, or health professionals, or even retail workers – have the right to challenge another person who is not wearing a mask?

My younger daughter is severely asthmatic, and yes is a higher risk of complications should she get COVID-19. But after an in-depth discussion with her doctor, she was advised not to wear a mask. She had tried on several occasions to wear her mask, and each time she became very breathless and had to remove the mask and take her inhaler.

She has a card that states she is exempt – on the advice of her doctor, who also told her that at the moment Government advice is that medical professionals are not required to provide patients with proof of exemption. Apparently, the onus is on each person to explain why they are exempt, and, should they feel the need, get themselves a card that says they are exempt.

The issue I have here is that anyone who just refuses to wear a mask could purchase an exemption card, claiming to be exempt. This leaves room for those who want to flout the face mask law able to do so without fear of being reprimanded. Yes, OK, shops, public transport, and so on can refuse those who are not wearing a mask entry into their establishment, but there are plenty of places where this rule is not being adhered to.

When my daughter was shopping at the supermarket last week she was asked by a member of the public why she wasn’t wearing a mask. He said to her “What makes you so special that you don’t have to wear a mask?” She showed him her exemption card, explained why she wasn’t wearing one and told him what her doctor had said.

We have entered muddy waters now, having to explain why we aren’t wearing a mask. Suspicions are running high, there are those who suspect anyone not wearing a mask to be nothing more than selfish. Medical grounds, both physical and mental, people who rely on lip-reading, to name but a few are some reasons for exemption.

Being labelled selfish for not wearing a mask suggests that we don’t care for those who do. There is a multitude of reasons why many people are not covering their faces, and generally, these are not because they do not care about the health of other people.

Next time you are out and about and you see someone not wearing a face-covering, before you jump to judgement, remember that some people have a medical reason for not wearing one.