Author Topic: Wearing a face covering in public  (Read 877 times)

ditchdwellers

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Wearing a face covering in public
« on: 21 Oct 2021 09:32AM »
I returned on Monday from a week long holiday on the Isle of Wight. We took the car ferry and travelling with me were my husband, my mother (that deserves a post all of it's own- what a saga!) and the dog.
The ferry company asked that everyone onboard should wear a mask/face covering if they were able to. I was horrified to find that we were in the extreme minority who did so. I don't go into public spaces very frequently these days and when I do I still wear a mask. Does this make me weird? My husband said he's often the only one wearing a mask going into a supermarket. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
I read in the news this morning that doctors are calling on government to reinstate compulsory mask wearing as Covid numbers are rising again. It seems like government are reluctant and dragging their heels yet again in introducing a simple measure that could potentially save lives, prevent severe illness, and stop the overloaded NHS finally grinding to a halt. The lack of long term planning and constant crisis management angers me. Have they learned nothing from the last 18 months?

oldtone27

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #1 on: 21 Oct 2021 10:37AM »
I haven't used public transport for a while, but mask wearing in my local supermarket has reduced considerably in the last couple of weeks. I reckon its about 50% now down from about 90%+. Its still about 90% by staff though.

Fiz

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #2 on: 21 Oct 2021 02:00PM »
I don't go many places and don't use public transport but I have noticed more maskless faces in my limited experience. Everyone wears one in the pharmacy, most people don't in the big supermarket but most do in the local co-op and I had lunch out last week with a friend in TGI Fridays and none of the staff wore one. I have to say though that I did like seeing the face of the server and not just eyes.


Yes doctors and health chiefs are calling for a return of compulsory mask wearing and of social distancing whatever that means but hospitals are nowhere near overwhelmed. Most people getting Covid are getting it mildly and recovering quickly at home. Studies have shown that cases of long Covid following Covid is now rare whereas prior to the vaccines it was a common side effect some are still suffering with after getting Covid in the first few months so I can't see the government taking that action yet. I am nervous of getting Covid now mainly because I am past 6 months from my second vaccine so I know my protection is dropping and I was in the group 4 vulnerable group. I think people are tired of the restrictions and realise that Covid is here and active and will be for the next few years so either don't see the point of masks or feel that it will make no difference to the presence of Covid being here for years. Pandemic fatigue maybe.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #3 on: 21 Oct 2021 05:35PM »
The situation as regards hospitals is partly a regional thing. 

However, it's not just the current rise in cases and the current rise in patients requiring mechanical ventilation that's an issue.  Take the increasing need for ventilators - it could be said that we can still make use of extra ventilators purchased last year.

However, there's still the backlog of other cases to be cleared, which has to be seen 
in the context of staff burnout that's leading to staff going off sick, changing careers, and taking early retirement.  So we don't just need cases to rise less steeply than last year, we need them to fall dramatically.

There's also the point that for patient safety, cases not requiring hospitalisation but where a patient needs to see a doctor (which may be for something else) require home visits.  This again reduces resources for other cases.

Further, whilst the current rise in cases including but not only those cases requiring artificial ventilation may not be at the level they were last year, it's not stopping the rise we need, it's reducing covid-19 cases in order to be able to clear the massive backlog of people waiting for treatment for other conditions.

But whilst the governments of various other first world countries look on in horror at what's happening here, with an attitude along the lines of "We don't mind that the cases are rising because it's not as much as last year."

I feel that way when there's a campaign in an area for, say, steps to be taken to reduce road traffic accidents and people say there's no need because there's no great increase in them, and some of us are there shaking our heads saying "That's no consolation to the family just down the road whose family member's just been run over."

We will probably always be stuck with this virus now, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't tackle the current rise in cases or try to reduce cases further.

That being said, I agree that there is pandemic fatigue.  I believe that that could be tackled with a national campaign along the lines of "Let's save Christmas!"  Slogans like "Mask up now, mask down for Santa!" etc.   

But you know me, doom and gloom, so I reckon the government will hang back from doing anything, let the cases continue to rise, rub their hands in glee as more pension & benefits claimants die, thus reducing the budget...

Still, who knows, maybe people will listen a bit more to the doctors, and maybe on a local level we can make a bit of a difference.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #4 on: 21 Oct 2021 05:54PM »
I do think Covid will only die down when we've gained immunity and that comes through exposure. I think wearing masks would reduce positive test results but not by much if that was the only measure taken so would not have much of an impact on services. There's increasing pressure on the government to do so though so it will be interesting to see if the government bend on this one.




KizzyKazaer

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #5 on: 21 Oct 2021 06:23PM »
I've noticed in my travels that mask-wearing in shops seems to be steadily decreasing with each passing week.  Some folk are going to get a shock if it's made compulsory again!

Have continued with it myself since the last lifting of restrictions, but with colder weather coming I am not so keen as when I don the mask and enter a store, my specs steam up something wicked  :f_erm:   Still, one has to put up with these things, I suppose, but I do wonder sometimes if we'll ever get on top of Covid-19...

Fiz

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #6 on: 21 Oct 2021 07:17PM »
They're looking at creating an annual vaccination for people with certain conditions and older people that will be given alongside the flu vaccine. Flu kills a lot of older people every year but we accept it as part of life and I can see Covid being viewed the same way. That it will be an ongoing risk to certain groups of people. Hopefully they'll develop suitable annual vaccines soon.


I really struggle wearing a mask now that my pain is worse. I must breathe deeper and I find the mask impairs it even though I buy the medical grade disposable masks that they use in hospitals that are meant to be the best for ease of breathing.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #7 on: 21 Oct 2021 08:10PM »
I'm lucky that I don't have a problem breathing with my masks, even though in some weather conditions and seasons my atopy is a bit of a pain when not damped down with serious immunosuppressants.

I find the 2-layer cotton-mix ones, put through the machine on my usual 40degree wash with non-bio detergent are ok, especially after a couple of washes.  I find handwashing them can be ok, but it depends on what I wash them with, because I did use some handwash that didn't go down well with my seborrhoeic dermatitis, but otherwise they're fine.  Obviously, the key thing is to ensure plenty of detergent contact to mess up the virus' lipids, then thorough rinsing.

I like the mainly cotton ones because I think they do a good job of trapping moisture in the fabric whilst still allowing for breathing.  That being said, I know someone who can't cope with a mask but feels readonably comfortable with a face visor.  I don't like visors so much.

A friend sent me a couple of nice home-made mainly cotton ones that are pleated so they form a nice seal round the face whilst being a bit more open.  I liked those in the hottest summer weather, whereas I like a closer-fit in the cold weather, saving me wearing a scarf against the cold.  But again, it's the washability that works for me.  I think they trap moisture particles whilst letting gases through much better than some masks.  I'm not knocking other sorts.

As for accepting covid-19 like flu, I'd offer a couple of comparisons.  Firstly, flu doesn't usually carry much of a postviral fatigue problem, and whilst long covid may seem to be less of an issue than it was, I've yet to see any evidence that those people that would otherwise get chronic fatigue from certain other viruses such as EB wouldn't still be at risk, in a society that treats people with chronic fatigue as malingerers.

Secondly, we're stuck with various other diseases but we've still done everything we can to minimise them.  For instance, it's been worth fighting back hard against polio, just as it has with bacterial infections such as bubonic plague.  We haven't defeated them but it has been well worth doing our best to get them down to levels at which they don't wipe us out.

So I agree we're going to have to live with this virus and I also hope they'll get the annual vaccine thing up and running soon.  I'm also keeping an eye on the developments in antiviral medicines.  What I'd really like is if it would help not just with this virus, but also if they could develop more general antivirals.

In the meantime, I'm very glad I cope ok with things like masks and social distancing, and I've managed to reconcile the handwashing etc. with my obsessive compulsive problems.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

On the edge

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #8 on: 22 Oct 2021 10:16AM »
The one I wear is cosmetic really. Cheap shop-bought masks (3 for a fiver here), offer nil protection but I can't afford to keep buying medical-grade masks.  I usually buy the ones you can wash and re-use.  They seem to be more a fashion statement than a protective thing now.  DIY clear masks for the deaf, aided lip-reading but clouded up all the time, again none offered protection to the user.  People were making them in the front room and selling them. 


During the first wave I investigated where the clear medical grade masks were, and only ONE area in Europe made them and our NHS had none of them.  They didn't for 10 months after either.  Rows still ensure if they had any value given most deaf could not lip-read effectively enough to solely rely on it. 1 in 126 deaf people can actually lip-read alone everything said, and even lip-reading teachers state, 60% is the very best you can hope for.


The thing with clear masks is the deaf plugged it for themselves, which was pointless as we/they need OTHERS to wear them!  Visors I saw no point in wearing at all, as they are wide open underneath.  Do they think the virus travels through the air in a straight line, and bounces off the perspex?  The government should have introduced rules for their sale to make them effective.  They only partially work WITH social distancing.


After 18 months of wearing a mask, my partner and I are starting to react to them and find them very uncomfortable to wear now.  It is affecting our breathing to an extent.  We only wear them on public transport or a shop now.  The problem is our area buses are choc a bloc again and social distancing has stopped.  We had to refuse to get on one bus were we would have had to sit with other people not wearing masks, there was quite a row about it as I told the driver he and the passengers were defying the rules.


The driver said 'if I stopped them without masks I get threatened, not worth it.'  One bloke just swore at us, we waited for the next one.  It was clear a few were wearing the sunflower tabard who were not disabled either, I gather they can be freely bought online for a few quid so nobody questions if you're disabled or if it is invisible or you have an exclusion reason from mask-wearing.


Wearing these has proven a boon for non-disabled who don't like wearing masks. A bit like those people who use fake parking permits etc..

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #9 on: 22 Oct 2021 01:08PM »
There is research evidence that shows that even quite cheap and basic masks can offer a useful degree of protection.  They don't have to catch every droplet of moisture in your breath to protect those around you from viral particles in the moisture, just catch some and slow down the rest so they don't go so far before dispersing or falling to the ground.

As for face visors and the virus, no they won't trap it all, but insofar as the moisture droplets are redirected downwards, there is then a good  chance that they will land on your clothing or, if they go anywhere, be spread in a loose mist and fall, not be projected strongly towards someone else's face.  But as you say, yes, social distancing also matters. 


I think that in addition to those that feel uncomfortable wearing masks, one of the main reasons why people in this country aren't wearing them is that our government hasn't stressed enough how you can pass on the virus whilst symptomless, so lots of people think "I don't need to wear a mask because I haven't go the virus so I can't pass it on.  People are safe round me if I don't wear a mask."

Mind you, there are still some politicians out there that speak as if the main person we're protecting when we wear an ordinary mask is ourselves as opposed to mainly others and to a lesser extent ourselves.  I suppose they think that'll sell the idea of wearing them better.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #10 on: 22 Oct 2021 03:04PM »
Quote
Do they think the virus travels through the air in a straight line, and bounces off the perspex?

I think you raise a very valid point.  I don't think most of us do give much thought to how any of these things work; but if they do, the amount of contradictory information we've been given is a problem.

On the other hand, I don't think exhaled breath on a visor worn as an alternative to a face mask for pandemic reasons is much different from exhaled breath on visors worn for other reasons, e.g. helmet visors.  If you think of it, typically the bit that steams up first on a cold day is typically the bit in front of your mouth and nose, not the bits round the edge. 

My understanding is that when you exhale, it's the droplets going in a straight line that travel fastest, and that more droplets go in a straight line than round the edge. So even though an everyday visor won't stop all the droplets, just like an everyday mask won't, it'll considerably reduce the proportion of them travelling in a straight line towards others who are inhaling and towards things we are looking at, which may well be the things people are more likely to touch.

Then again, for protecting ourselves (and I appreciate that that's a secondary purpose with everyday masks and visors as opposed to N95 ones) I suppose again I'm influenced by my experience wearing masks in a work context and for DIY.  A cheap mask or visor from a builder's merchants won't stop everything coming my way, but there's plenty of DIY I wouldn't do without one.  Likewise, when my immune system is grumpy, wearing a simple mask in bed won't stop all the pollen and tree mould spores getting in, but it'll keep enough out to mean I'm not waking every few minutes to cough and spit or snort and spit.

I wish, though, that we had the slogan "My mask protects you, your mask protects me" splashed all over billboards and the sides of buses.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #11 on: 22 Oct 2021 04:15PM »
As for the bus thing, OtE, I find buses very stressful to say the least.

That being said, on my local buses, the unwritten rule most people seem to obey is that unmasked people go upstairs or at the back, unless they need to be in the buggy bays. 

I don't know what the situation is in Wales, but here we've got the rules that cover most of England (but not, I believe, London?) whereby there are no laws or bylaws requiring masks on buses, but bus companies are free to set their own terms and conditions.

Various bus companies operate near me, but all require masks.  But as with your local buses, drivers aren't making a fuss with unmasked passengers.

I can't see what they're supposed to do, though.  As you point out, if people find they're getting challenged, they can always go and buy a sunflower lanyard.  It might have been to the point to get a system in place for applying for and getting some sort of exempt status, but the government wasn't going to be able to do that, even if it wanted to, having already effectively destroyed our health assessment system for other purposes such as benefits.

Also, whilst I find it frustrating when people don't wear masks, in all seriousness, when you read what's written online, I do believe that a lot of people out there now believe that wearing a mask is dangerous because it makes you re-breathe in your own exhaled breath and...well, the explanations then vary.  So if you've read or heard over and over and over again that masks are dangerous and harm you, why mightn't you become genuinely afraid of wearing one?

How would a formal exemption scheme handle that?

So whilst I want to scream my head off not just with fury but with, genuinely, fear when I get on a bus with lots of unmasked people, I think communication's been handled in a way that means that if now we had a formal assessment for exemption scheme, lots of people would be genuinely exempt now who wouldn't otherwise be, because they are genuinely scared.

That doesn't fix your bus problem, just maybe next time you get on a bus, maybe it might help a little to know you're not the only one feeling frustrated.

Oh, and the lanyard thing - different aspect - abuse of it is particularly problematic for those of us with hidden disabilities, isn't it?
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #12 on: 23 Oct 2021 07:45PM »
A thought about sorts of masks...

Suppose that instead of spending lots of money on buying stuff from friends and friends of friends that couldn't supply what they said they could, the government had set up a department/team tasked with setting up a factory or maybe a group of small factories, to produce N95 masks for the whole country.

I  bet if it had been done properly and professionally at a fair price, not dodgy deals, we'd have been really well kitted out by now.

They could also have got special masks made for those that need them, e.g. some more like respirators, and ample supplies of stuff like treatment liquids/washes for conditions that can be aggravated by masks, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis.

But that would all have required honesty and competence.

The contrast in my head is what I think would have happened under Thatcher.  Whilst I loathed Thatcher, at least if she put work the way of her mates, she'd have insisted on getting decent kit for it.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Monic1511

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #13 on: 24 Oct 2021 08:18AM »
Mask wearing in indoor public spaces has been compulsory in Scotland all along, still compulsory on public transport, doesn’t stop the selfish or inconsiderate ones who could wear a mask from wearing a chin strap instead  :f_doh:

Fiz

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Re: Wearing a face covering in public
« Reply #14 on: 24 Oct 2021 08:49AM »
That's interesting Monic that you're only now struggling with breathing with a mask on after 18 months of wearing them. I used to always wear one with no problem but even the medical grade disposable ones I buy I now struggle with. I'd assumed it was because I am in more pain so may be breathing differently but maybe it's like you, an affect of time use.


With regard to the sunflower lanyards though, they signal that the wearer has an invisible disability, that's their purpose so if people are using them for the right purpose you wouldn't see their disability. But yes almost certainly a lot of people would have got hold of one to avoid wearing a mask when they would actually be okay wearing a mask but we can't tell by looking who can and who can't.


At my grandaughter's birthday party yesterday it was cosy with 45 people in a small area and not one mask in sight!