06 July 2021 Adrian Leopard 309 Uncategorized Masks? Big questions looming as we face relaxation of legal restrictions Previous Article Will you ditch your mask or keep using it? Next Article We are still facing a pandemic but perhaps not one which kills everyone Mask or no mask? What was previously a simple matter suddenly will become a very complex one with potentially far-reaching results There was a time when no one was very keen on masks; now everyone is worried about whether lifting restrictions is coming too soon. How fickle we are! The face mask is definitely one of the bêtes noires of the coronavirus pandemic. Initially they were not mandatory at all; indeed we were told probably it was better to avoid using them. Then they became mandatory and we were told how important they were to prevent the spread of the virus. Now we are being told that their use will become entirely voluntary and we get all sort of mixed messages about whether we should continue to use them or not. Some notable medical experts say they should continue to be used because their efficacy is considerable, especially the nice new ones which fit around the contours of the face. But the question arises now as to where health and safety at work stands in all of this, notably of course the hospitality industry where waiting staff under present rules must use them but will be allowed not to in a couple of weeks time. A representative of the hospitality industry was interviewed at some length on the radio yesterday and she asserted that once the restrictions are all lifted, including the wearing of masks, everything would be rosy in the garden. The interviewer did not agree as he questioned what would happen if workers stuck in crowded bars wanted to retain their masks. The response was unconvincing – they would be safe anyway because they are all working together to make it work. There are clearly going to be a lot of paradoxes over the coming weeks and the argument about masks is going to intensify probably, not diminish. Fundamentally, there must be a health and safety at work issue to be resolved – is a worker safe in a packed bar over a period of hours at all? And are there degrees of safety? Can an employer and employee compromise on health and safety legislation by agreeing to a diluted solution? I suspect not. Health and safety is an employer’s duty which he simply cannot contract out of. So he has to carry out his own risk assessment and determine whether the wearing of masks is going to make it safer for his staff or not. If he is forced to the conclusion that wearing a mask is safer, does he have the luxury of being able to tell them not to, even if they do not want to wear them? But herein lies another paradox – we are told that wearing a mask is to prevent other people catching the disease from you! So if you are in a pub packed with non-mask wearers all around, your level of protection from them is not that high. So does it matter? They will all catch it and probably give it to you anyway! All this comes along with speculation on the part of the government that the rate of new cases could easily rise to 50000 a day, or even 100000 a day as the summer moves on. The thought of 700000 new cases week in the country is mind-boggling in the extreme and makes our present rate of just over 176000 a week look positively respectable! So the question then arises – what do the people think of the present situation and the forthcoming relaxation of most of the rules? There are probably going to be two camps – those who breathe a sigh of relief and say it was all unnecessary in the first place and then those who adopt a stance of fear for just how bad the third, or will it be fourth wave then becomes. And what of the poor employee stuck in the middle? With talk of long covid getting more predominant, there must be a real fear that even vaccinated people who catch covid-19 will end up with a long term condition which could be completely debilitating. We believe that the seriousness of long term covid has been greatly under-estimated and the image of a lady on tv who used to cycle twenty odd miles a day to work and now cannot manage 100 feet on foot is utterly dreadful and has not been given enough consideration. So the bottom line is, you just don’t want to catch covid-19, vaccinated or not because the result could still be thoroughly debilitating, if not even fatal, and because it will be longer than 28 days since you were diagnosed with it, you won’t even be included in the statistics. So perhaps the force of the law requiring certain people to wear masks is not such a bad idea because once it is made voluntary it will be all too easy to decide not too – and therein lies the risk. Adrian Leopard 06-07-21 Photo Läsma Artmane Rate article No rating Rate this article: No rating Tags mediation hospitality hotels aviation holidays Covid-19 local pub masonry Share Print Switch article Will you ditch your mask or keep using it? Previous Article We are still facing a pandemic but perhaps not one which kills everyone Next Article Comment Collapse Expand Comments (0) You don't have permission to post comments.