Face mask tyranny

Where do you draw the line with all this ‘Public Health’ authoritarianism? When do you let adults exercise their free will and use their common sense? Should we wear face masks when the ‘science is so weak’ and do Maltese summers make wearing a face mask a good idea?


By Kevin-James Fenech 

Kevin is the founder and owner of JOB Search - jobsearch.mt and FENCI Consulting fenci.eu.

Ok let’s try to understand the logic together. So there is no scientific evidence to prove that face masks provide adequate protection against the Coronavirus but it is now mandatory to wear one if you enter a shop.

Moreover, it wasn’t mandatory to wear a face mask in March or April when for example visiting a panic-buying scene in a supermarket, during the COVID-19 peak, but now that we are in the tail end of it, we are obliged by law to wear a face mask when entering a retail outlet.

To contextualise the matter, research shows that the wearing of condoms is 95%+ effective at preventing a person getting infected with a STD like the HIV virus, which nearly 40 years down the line and we still don’t have a vaccine, but it is not mandatory to wear condoms.

The reason being that we cherish in our democracy, and rightly so, peoples’ individual ‘liberty’. Sure the public health authorities issue guidelines and make strong recommendations but it is not mandatory to wear condoms.

The Coronavirus, however, which is less contagious or lethal than measles or AIDS gets preferential treatment apparently! Oppressive restrictions, especially one’s which are not backed by scientific evidence, are seemingly tolerated and no one dares say anything or so it seems. We live in a new era of Public Health tyranny symbolised by the wearing of the face mask.

Since the government refers to WHO’s Interim Guidance dated 6 April 2020 in its own guidelines entitled ‘Mandatory conditions to be observed in retail outlets’ wherein the wearing of a face mask is now mandatory, I took the liberty of reading the Interim Guidance, and interestingly WHO recommends the following as the ‘the most effective preventive measures’:

  1. Maintaining physical distance (a minimum of 1 metre) from other individuals;
  2. Performing hand hygiene frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub if available and if your hands are not visibly dirty or with soap and water if hands are dirty;
  3. Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  4. Practicing respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue and then immediately disposing of the tissue;
  5. Wearing a medical mask if you have respiratory symptoms and performing hand hygiene after disposing of the mask;
  6. Routine cleaning and disinfection of environmental and other frequently touched surfaces.

You may have noticed that WHO states you should only wear a face mask if ‘…you have respiratory symptoms..’ and we also have various WHO officials consistently telling us this year that face masks ‘…are commonly misused and as a result, won’t offer the intended protection…’

Whereas a certain Dr. John Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant, takes the argument a step further and explains:

‘When a person is infectious with a virus it is estimated that they may shed one hundred billion virus particles a day – that works out at about ten million per breath. A mask won’t stop you putting these particles into the air around you. In fact, with a damp mask you’ll be blowing aerosols and larger particles sideways, directly at your socially distanced colleagues.’

Moreover, in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock repeated only a few days ago that there was only ‘weak science’ supporting advice that people should wear face masks in shops and on public transport.

In fact, the total inward leakage of commercially available face masks ranges between 10% and a whooping 70% because most masks do not fit perfectly the contours of peoples’ varying face profiles. Thus there is invariably ‘inward leakage’ whenever wearing a mask. Moreover, a face mask only covers the mouth and nose leaving the eyes completely exposed to airborne transmission.

I therefore humbly ask, given that the science clearly isn’t strong, why make it mandatory? To my mind, if it makes you feel safe and gives you the courage to venture out to do your shopping or go to work, wear a face mask but don’t make it mandatory. Let’s not create a nanny state on steroids, and worse still, under the guise of ‘public health’ strip citizens of basic freedoms and the right to think on their own.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the government or the public health authorities issuing guidelines and making strong recommendations but ultimately the wearing of a face mask should be a personal choice especially when the ‘science is so weak’.

We are also not factoring in Maltese summers into the equation. People will sweat, have a face itch which they need to scratch in public, wipe off sweat from their forehead and even suffer face rashes from prolonged exposure to face masks in the peak of summer. My point being that we are increasing the probability of people touching their face in summer when out shopping!

Where do you draw the line with all this ‘Public Health’ authoritarianism? When do you let adults exercise their free will and use their common sense? Should we wear face masks when the ‘science is so weak’ and do Maltese summers make wearing a face mask a good idea?

I appeal with respect, to our decision makers, who so far have done a very good job in keeping us safe, to reverse the decision especially given the lack of strong evidence in favour of wearing face masks and to continue encouraging people, during the easing of restrictions, to observe the other more effective counter-measures such as the ones quoted above by WHO.

Let’s end this face mask tyranny!

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