You should still be wearing a face mask even if it isn't compulsory

  • Connexions
  • 2020-09-25
  • 1481

Compulsory face mask wearing is dependent on what country or city you live and work in. But with more countries reopening, and a large variety of restrictions and regulations around if you do or do not have the choice of wearing a mask when venturing out, the underlying question remains of should you wear one or not? Particularly if you're in a country still struggling to contain the virus or inching back through recovery.

The short answer is yes, yes you should.

First, let's have a refresher on masks, because honestly, it shouldn't even really be a question of wearing them at this point in the pandemic; then we'll take a look at the results from LinkedIn News Asia's poll on if people would be happy if their company moved to a four-day work week.

Many of you have seen the videos of confrontations in businesses between employees and non-mask wearing customers, or even mask wearing customers publicly shaming non-mask wearers or the other way around. In the U.S. at least, there's a bit of a mask culture war going on that really shouldn't even be happening.

▶ Data supports effectiveness of mass mask wearing

There's now plenty of data supporting the effectiveness of wearing a mask to reduce spread of coronavirus. One Hong Kong study with hamsters found masks can significantly reduce transmission, while another study from earlier in the month found that if 80% of the U.S. population wore masks, infections would plummet.

▶ Asia has it figured out

Here in Asia, countries, cities and the people have enthusiastically embraced mask wearing and generally as a result in many countries it this acceptance of face mask use has helped limit the spread of the virus.

In Japan there has been widespread adoption of mask wearing since the onset, and Japan has shown resilience in keeping from crossing the tipping point. They've also now got chilled face masks you can get directly from vending machines.

One of the big reasons for Hong Kong's success in holding off the disease has been because of societal acceptance and wide-spread mask wearing at the first signs of early infection. South Korea was initially hit hard but quickly promoted and distributed masks as a part of their aggressive containment measures and was able to get a handle on halting the spread of Covid-19. In the Philippines, recent survey results showed that 77% of polled Filipinos wear face masks when going out.

In Singapore, it is currently compulsory to wear a mask or face shield outside of the house. This has been the case since early April when the country entered into the circuit breaker, which is ending on June 2. Since then, community spread has steadily declined. Considering a recent YouGov survey found that Singaporeans were the least likely to wear masks out of South East Asia countries (poll period from Mid March to Mid April), Singaporeans have quickly adapted to the new requirements and are starting to really see the returns of their efforts to contain the spread.

Wearing a mask here isn't easy when its 90 degrees and humid every single day. Personally, I hate wearing a face mask. But you do get used to it and adapt.

▶ Common sense

The CDC has complete guidelines for cloth face masks. The W.H.O. provides information on when and how to wear them. There's loads of instructions and DIY tutorials for making them yourself easily and cheaply. There's plenty of supporting data and proof wearing facial coverings has helped limit the spread. So what's the rationale for not wearing a mask?

Maybe because of comfort, or for others it can be due to either a disbelief in the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, or maybe a belief that compulsory mask wearing infringes on freedoms or finally just a lack of care or respect for others.

There's a large degree of common sense in play with making a decision to wear a mask or not if given the choice; proximity to elderly, the young or those with pre-existing conditions, being in a crowded space indoors or outdoors such as retail shops, restaurants, malls or crowded parks or beaches.

So let's swing over to the U.S. now, where the grim 100,000 Covid-19 death milestone has just been reached.

▶ Different state or city, different rules

In the U.S., requirements and regulations for wearing a face mask it can vary from state to state, like in Texas or Idaho where individual businesses can set guidelines. Head over to Virginia and you're required to wear a face mask at indoor or public places. In Los Angeles, California, face masks are required in public places, but the Orange County Sheriff has stated he won't enforce wearing face masks. In San Diego, California it is required to wear a mask at dine-in restaurants and businesses. In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court knocked down social distancing regulations and public officials can only urge individuals and businesses to wear, or require wearing masks.

This is all to say that it can be challenge to know exactly what you should or should not be doing when it comes to wearing a face mask, requiring your staff or customers to wear a face mask, or even insisting on friends or family members to wear them.

When in doubt, my suggestion would be to do as Asia does and listen to the data and healthcare professionals telling people to put on a face mask. I don't worry about people stopping wearing face masks too soon in most countries in Asia, as wearing one in this region is culturally accepted and encouraged. There's no shame in protecting other people and yourself. They're not fun to wear, they're hot and stuffy, it's hard to speak and if you wear glasses they fog up.

But wearing a mask does make a difference, and it does show respect for others around you. You can now more easily find face masks in stores and there's a wide variety available for online ordering; even featuring officially licensed professional team logos. Some masks are flying off the digital shelves, like this Adidas face mask which started popping up on eBay for $90.

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(PHOTO: Adidas)

Wear a mask, they can help save lives, keep businesses and schools open and some look pretty cool.

Question remains: Should you wear one or not? Join the discussion in the comments below. 👇

Now for some four-day workweek poll results

In case you missed it, last week I posted some early results and encouraged voting on a LinkedIn Asia News poll that asked the question, "Would you be happy if your company moved to a four-day workweek as part of the 'new normal'?"

The poll was open for seven days and racked up 3416 votes.

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That's... a lopsided result if I've ever seen one. Those who voted are comprised mostly of Asia, my follower and this newsletter base which are both pretty global demographically.

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