Continued Mask Wearing Won’t Help Us Return to Normal

According to a recent opinion poll, over 60 per cent of the population are anxious about the prospect of lifting the Covid-19 requirement to wear masks in community settings. Despite evidence that face coverings do not reduce the risk of viral transmission in real-world situations, and are associated with a range of negative consequences, it appears many people remain afraid of returning to a normal life with their face exposed.

While initiatives like the Smile Free campaign push for the removal of all mask mandates, how can we ease the widespread apprehension about re-engaging with our fellow human beings without hiding behind pieces of cloth or plastic?

It has sometimes been suggested that continuing to wear face coverings can reassure people that they are safe to return to shops, restaurants, and other community venues. In their response to an anti-mask petition, the government argued that masks can give people “more confidence” to return to the high street, and stated that the British Retail Consortium held a similar view. Labour’s shadow education secretary, Kate Green, recently made a similar claim when she stated that masks provide “reassurance”. But as any psychological therapist knows, persisting with a face covering will prolong, rather than lessen, people’s anxieties. (The Critic)

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