Q11. What are your experiences of masks?: "I have no problem whatsoever wearing masks in enclosed environments nor has my son. Mind you I was a nurse & as part of our theatre placement during training we got used to wearing them then. It's a small inconvenience to protect yourselves & others. And because it's just me & my 15 yo at home looking after each other, neither can afford to get COVID 19, especially as I have spinal surgery coming up in 4 weeks time - 2 of which we will both have to self isolate before I go into hospital to protect me.

With the advent of washable reusable masks we are starting to see several funky designs on show now as well as the run of the mill blue ones that folk use. And in the main I see folks in my town using them more often than not. Recently, I noticed someone with a full bushy beard though trying to wear theirs correctly but their beard made it particularly difficult. But he couldn't shave his beard as it was part of his religion & culture.

But I have several issues though over what I see some members of the general public doing & it's not just young folk (who are being blamed unfairly) either.

Obviously not wearing them is fine, if you have a predisposing condition that would make it difficult for you to breathe. But I see too many people not wearing them correctly, namely not fully enclosing their nose, so they can still breathe out into the atmosphere, which to me means the rationale for the mask hasn't been explained properly by the powers that be as their are many folk out there unaware that the nose & mouth are linked. Also, people wearing them under there chin e.g. pulling them down to talk to someone, so potentially causing an issue with cross contamination.

I see folks wearing plastic visors without a mask which is practically pointless, especially if the visor is set at a jaunty angle, failing to prevent their breath escaping in the first place.

So for me, the use of masks has been brought in without sufficient explanation of the respiratory tract & why it's important to cover both mouth & nose. Also the rise of disposable mask use has led to masks not being properly disposed of, risking more cross contamination - not to mention the risk to wildlife. Furthermore, masks need to be used consistently, & it's important that the message about social distancing & handwashing isn't lost, as it would be too easy to become complacent & for folks to think a mask is a cure all.

Masks themselves can prove quite expensive, The cheapest deal I found was £13 for a box of 50 online. so in the early days when I didn't have the money, I rationed mine by rotating them based on the premise that the Coronavirus can only live on surfaces for 72 hours - so by labelling your masks 1 to 3, you can wear mask 1 on Day 1, Mask 2 on Day 2 & mask 3 on Day 3. Then it's ok to back to mask 1 again on Day 4 & so on.

Personally I would prefer to wear a reusable mask, but buying them individually is expensive, so I'm going to have to bust out the old sewing machine to make my own, I think. But I like the idea of them being sold as a fundraiser too - at least some good can come out of the pandemic.

Whilst it's easy to get irritated by mask etiquette or lack of it., there's really no point. You can only control your own behaviour, so as long as you take the stance of I'm wearing a mask to protect you, hopefully enough good souls will reciprocate.

One thing I have found ironic about the whole thing is that in my area, we have many traditional Muslim ladies who wear niqabs & no doubt have suffered prejudice as a result. Now we all have to wear masks, so the niqab wearing ladies have had it right all along."

Meg T
Sep 29, 2020

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