Mask Wars: should face coverings and masks be made mandatory? – Conservative Article
My eyesight isn’t the best. When I was 14, my teacher tried to persuade me to get glasses. I refused to heed her advice because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I also didn’t like things obstructing my face. It didn’t matter that I had to squint to look at the blackboard and that glasses would have been good for me. Eventually, my mom forced me to get contacts and I’ve been wearing them ever since.
This is comparable to the current mask debate. Masks prevent Coronavirus transmission to some extent. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they are uncomfortable to wear and I don’t like being told what to do. The key difference is that I’m no longer 14 so I will actually wear them if I must.
Should masks be made compulsory though? I don’t think so.
I’m writing this from the confinement of my Edinburgh flat. Masks became mandatory in Scotland on the 10th of July. The frustration hasn’t been major in Scotland. Everyone treats Nicola Sturgeon as a saint (except maybe nursing home inhabitants), so everyone just follows her commands.
England decided to follow suit. Face coverings became compulsory in shops on the 24th of July. Those who fail to adhere to this law risk being fined £100. This triggered an avalanche of mixed feelings: rage, indifference, and ‘Karenism’. The libertarian right is cutting up their Conservative membership cards and refusing to wear ‘muzzles’. Meanwhile, the left is out there fighting the invisible enemy, instantly assuming that all Tories are against wearing masks as this fits the grandma-killing narrative. They forget that it was the Tories who made the masks compulsory in the first place.
To some extent, I can understand why some people consider compulsory masks an infringement on their rights. But at the same time, we have to understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic. It requires a certain degree of compassion towards other people. We saw this in the US. Trying to argue against masks makes you look a little bit silly.
The research is out there, masks do actually help to reduce the transmission if used alongside proper hygiene. Interestingly though, despite Asian countries leading by example with their fondness of face coverings, it’s better hygiene standards, such as washing hands, etc. that mainly helps with disease prevention. So maybe we should focus on encouraging better hygiene instead?
On the other side of the spectrum, it seems that the libertarian left has very quickly turned authoritarian. I don’t think that people should be hounded down for not wearing face coverings. I’m afraid that with masks being made mandatory, it will be angry strangers on the streets trying to enforce it the most.
But should face coverings be compulsory? Well, since the death count and infection rate are continuing to decline, I don’t see the point of enforcing this. It’s too late.
Why are we considering this idea now, when the masks could have been made compulsory from the very start? How is this going to be enforced? Pubs and other social places have already opened in England and people are out and about. And if they do save lives and protect from COVID-19, how many deaths could have we prevented if we enforced this at the beginning? We have to be honest. Masks have become more of a symbol than an actual prevention tool.
We also need to consider the fact that not everyone is actually terrified of the pandemic. The death rate is relatively low. Young and able people without underlying conditions aren’t in grave danger and will most likely recover if they get the virus. They are also the ones, who will have to deal with a recession and failing economy. Not an ideal climate to graduate into. Understandably, there will be plenty of people who do want to wear masks for their own safety. No one is stopping them.
There are suggestions that masks should have been made just ‘advisory’, and maybe that’s a better route to take. But the decision was already made, so begrudgingly, I will accept the government’s decision and dust off my ‘Socialism sucks’ mask, so at least I can express my political opinions whilst shopping for groceries. If masks are the price we have to pay for normality, I will do what I must, but unwillingly.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Point of Information
Masks and face coverings are absolutely necessary – a Liberal Response
I thoroughly disagree with Dinah’s point of view. Wearing face masks should be made mandatory, even at this stage. They are an undeniably essential precaution to help limit the spread of Covid-19.
I agree with Dinah that the government should have acted sooner. However, as the economy re-opens with the virus still present, face coverings are the most sustainable way forward. I have previously written about the importance of precautions in our recovery from the virus. Face coverings being one of them.
Dinah’s article undervalues the importance of face coverings in preventing contagion. In fact, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support their usage. For example, according to the IHME, 33,000 deaths could be avoided in the USA alone if 95% of people wore face masks. It is only rational to wear a mask.
It might seem strange for a liberal to call for mandatory precautions. After all, Dinah does mention the new, seemingly ‘authoritarian’, nature of libertarian leftists. However, this approach is too simple. Beating Coronavirus is crucial if we want to preserve our liberal society, with its freedom of markets, movement, and protest. Masks are the best way of fighting the pandemic whilst preserving our liberties. Government action, in this case, is essential.
However, this issue is beyond political infighting, which Dinah’s article plays into. We cannot forget our communities either. Dinah notes how young people are relatively unaffected. Yet, she has quickly glanced over our older generations. In a liberal society, all people should be protected. Face coverings are the most humane way of doing this, whilst allowing us to rebuild sustainably.
Whilst we are past the virus’s peak, we should continue to enforce masks. One simulation predicted that if 80% of people wore masks, this would be more effective than a strict lockdown in preventing Covid’s spread. Face coverings really do work.
We need to avoid another lockdown. We need to wear masks.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
When did wanting to help others become a political statement? – a Labour Response
In 1983, the UK government made it mandatory to wear seatbelts whilst in a car. This legal move was accompanied by a long-running public awareness campaign. Three decades later, seatbelt usage is near-universal and is estimated to have saved tens of thousands of lives.
A small, easy change in everyone’s lives which has resulted in a staggering reduction of suffering. Sound familiar? It should.
So it should come as no surprise that I found Dinah’s piece is shockingly ill-considered. In the face of such a serious situation, it’s laced through with short-sightedness and selfish thinking.
The petulant childishness and snivelling of adults, whining about not liking to be told what to do, is frankly sickening. If the above article itself even admits that, according to experts, face coverings can help reduce the spread of disease, then why is Dinah’s argument anything other than an enthusiastic endorsement of their use?
As for the laughably lazy reference to “authoritarianism”, I implore you to take moment to think about wearing a seatbelt, or avoiding smoking indoors, or now wearing a mask. In short, any of the important measures we introduced to protect people’s health and happiness. Are these really the hallmarks of some Orwellian regime, or simply signs of a society that cares for about its citizens?
Dinah completes her mental gymnastics routine with the knockout statement that even if masks work (they do) and even if the government should have introduced the measures earlier (they should), there’s no point in making them mandatory because… “it’s too late”.
Now, after four months of watching coverage of Covid-19, I’m far from a qualified epidemiologist, but surely the moment when infections risk rising again is the right one to take all the measures we can to help stop the spread. If even one life is saved as a result of us all pulling together, isn’t that enough?
Now, in contrast to my Conservative colleague, I can’t claim to speak for all young people (and certainly not for those sequestered in Edinburgh accommodation). However, I can say that some of us take our responsibilities to the sick, to seniors, and to wider society seriously.
So unlike Dinah, whenever and wherever I wear my mask, I do it willingly and with pride. Without trying to make cheap political statements. I do all that because I know I’m doing my bit to help stop the disease. What about you?
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Evan Saunders
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
I’m a third year University of Manchester student, currently studying in Lyon on my Erasmus year (by sheer coincidence I’m writing this hours after parliament has voted to end British involvement in the 30 year programme, so just to be on the safe side I promise not to use the NHS/European Declaration of Human Rights/anything at all anytime soon).