It’s a touch stifling and it causes my glasses to fog up and my ears to stick out, but I’ve started wearing a simple cloth mask when I go shopping or grab takeout from Amherstburg restaurants.
It just seems like the prudent and responsible thing to do given anyone, whether they feel sick or not, is capable of spreading COVID-19.
I still try to maintain at least two metres of space between myself and others in public spaces and I still try to avoid touching my face. I understand a cloth mask won’t and isn’t meant to protect me from COVID-19. It is meant to protect other people from germs I may unwittingly be spreading. I can endure a little discomfort in service of that goal.
I don’t wear a mask when exercising outdoors, but I take great care to avoid other people. If I see someone coming, I'll cross the street. I wear a mask when I visit public spaces where I feel physical distancing could prove challenging.
The messaging of our public health officials has been inconsistent at best when it comes to wearing masks. They initially advised against it out of fear ordinary folks would utilize scarce medical masks at a time when they were in short supply for our frontline workers. Then they expressed concerns that people would feel a false sense of security wearing a cloth mask and disregard physical distancing measures.
Now, the use of cloth masks is being recommended by local, provincial and national health officials as one tool ordinary citizens can use to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks have not been made mandatory, but more and more businesses are requiring customers to wear them, a trend that could surely grow if cases of COVID-19 spike later in the summer or fall.
The Town of Amherstburg is conducting a survey to determine how residents feel about the use of non-medical masks in public spaces and you can fill it out on Talk The Burg. As of Saturday morning, 62 per cent of 162 respondents said they would be wearing a mask in public spaces. The survey closes on Sunday at 4 p.m. so there is still time for you to vote.
If anyone is in need of a cloth mask, there is group of dedicated volunteers in Amherstburg who have been making and distributing them for weeks and they take orders on the MASKS4ALL Facebook page. I was fortunate to have a mask-maker as a neighbour and she provided my family a few masks, including one with musical notes!
I was a bit nervous, I must admit, to slap that mask on for the first time when I went shopping. I was afraid of looking weak or foolish or of sending a message of capitulation rather than strength. I'm still not used to wearing a mask and it still feels weird, but I'm going to keep doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do.
So long as it is recommended by public health officials as a tool in the fight against COVID-19, not wearing one just doesn’t make much sense to me.
I believe very strongly in individual freedom and that my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins. And if wearing a mask can help prevent that knockout blow, then I’m going to keep wearing a mask where physical distancing may be a challenge.