We should all wear face masks, as often as possible, wherever possible, it’s obvious, innit?
Or is it?
Let’s run over a few of the claims being made in support of mask wearing in shops
Claim 1: “We must now wear masks in shops, because the science has changed”.
Six months into the pandemic masks were made compulsory in all public indoor environments where people were not eating or drinking, supposedly because “the science had changed”.
Except, the UK government doesn’t seem to think it needs to provide any evidence of this supposed “change in the science”,
– and countries like Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands continue to state openly that there is still no reliable scientific evidence to support the claim that wearing masks in shops reduces transmission of the Covid-19.
In fact far from reducing them, cloth mask wearing may even lead to higher transmission rates, as most ‘non-medical’ people do not use them correctly:
So why are most governments around the globe, so keen to force people to wear face masks, in more and more scenarios?
– despite the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries reiterating that the evidence that masks reduce the spreading of the virus “is not strong”.
(Presumably she’s not one of the increasing number of people in government with shares in PPE and/or vaccine manufacturers)
These are the reasons behind this push to keep us all “masked up”, for as long as possible, and in as many places as possible… as I see them:
i) It makes it seem like they are ‘doing something’, taking some action. That’s what governments must do. Or at least they almost all believe they must.
ii) “It’s no lose”, from a government point of view.
What do I mean by ‘no lose’ ?
There are a huge number of factors which can, and do, routinely affect the transmission of Covid-19.
However, if infection rates happen to drop after mandating more mask wearing,
– then the government involved will claim credit,
– the rate drop was obviously down to their “smart intervention”, it was clearly a direct result of forcing people to wear masks more often, in more places.
Alternatively, if the infection rate happens to go up some time shortly afterwards, the government will simply say,
– “well just imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn’t made mask wearing compulsory!”
They can’t lose, either way they win.
*** Update September 25th 2020
Masks in shops were mandated in England on 24th of July.
Infections had been dropping steadily over the previous month or two.
Shortly afterwards infections began to rise again.
As predicted absolutely no one in authority has suggested these two facts may be connected.
Unless there is a massive public backlash, or a vaccine becomes widely available (or perhaps the point has been reached where masks are required 24 * 7, “every waking moment”, maybe even while we sleep)
– this process will never stop ***
(We now know the current laws on mask wearing will be in place for at least six months, until next Spring, more than likely another year.
More of this later.
Note: We may well see a move to push the Police and Crime Commissioner, Metro Mayor, and local elections, already delayed by one year,
– back another six months to the Autumn of 2020.
Meanwhile every other European nation will have managed to hold elections in 2020.
This anti-democratic move should be resisted as strongly as possible.
We badly need elections to give the government an indication of the public mood.
We also therefore badly need a party to vote for which will represents the view of an increasingly large percentage of the population,
– that lock downs have gone too far, and that the damage they are doing to our economy, and as a direct result, public health in general,
– now far outweighs any perceived benefits in terms of reducing the spread of the virus.
My own view is that we should protect the elderly and vulnerable, where they want to be protected (not all do),
– and allow the rest of the population, who very little to fear from Covid-19, to live their lives as they used to do
(we know that more than 95% of people who die from the virus are either very elderly, and/or had a serious underlying health condition, usually several)
It makes no sense, and is simply not fair, to place severe, indefinite restrictions on the lives of 98% of the population who have nothing to fear from Covid-19.
It needs to stop now. Protect the vulnerable, who wish to be protected, and allow everyone else to get on with their lives, using Common Sense and personal responsibility.
Just one example: If a college student returns from university at Christmas, and there has been an outbreak of Covid-19 at their university, then they know enough by now not to rush up to granny and hug her when they get home. Wait two weeks first, or maybe don’t visit her at all.
This is how we used to deal with viruses, like ‘flu, which can and does kill a lot of elderly people, currently at least four time more than Covid-19,
– if we felt ill, or knew that we had been in recent contact with someone who had ‘flu, we made sure we didn’t give it to our elderly relatives, by avoiding contact with them.
We did not scare young children stupid, by telling them ‘Don’t hug granny or you will kill her’,
– despite the fact we know that young children can easily pass ‘flu to grandparents,
– but they pretty much never pass Covid-19 to them:
“findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) could not recall episodes during contact tracing where transmission occurred from a child to an adult”.
Yet many people are quick to fill very young children full of the fear of exactly this. Step forward Matt Hancock, Nicola Sturgeon, and many local councils. To name but a few.
Difficult not to view setting out to deliberately induce this level of fear, into such young young children, on the of effectively no evidence whatsoever, for seemingly, no good reason… as just “plain evil”. Difficult for me anyway.
Claim 2: “Wearing a mask protects other people, and it can not harm you”.
In certain scenarios it may protect other people, to a small degree.
There are however a huge number of scenarios where it can lead to the person wearing the mask getting infected with Covid-19, when they may well not have done if they had not been wearing a mask.
These scenarios include, but are not limited to:
i) If you do not wash your hands thoroughly before putting it on
ii) If you have not kept the mask in a ‘Covid-19 free’ container at all times
iii) If it’s a reusable mask, and you have not washed it correctly
iv) If you have not washed your hands thoroughly before taking it off
v) If you don’t dispose of it properly, and immediately, once taken off.
vi) If you touch anything contaminated with the virus whilst wearing it, and then adjust the mask on your face.
I would invite you to take a moment to observe people wearing a mask in supermarkets,
– even for a just few seconds. Chances are you will see them “fiddle with it”.
Contamination from anything that they have touched since they last washed their hands can get transferred to their face, and the mask they are wearing, “fiddling with”.
Masks are uncomfortable to wear, they slip, they lead to increased sweating, they itch,
– consequently it’s almost inevitable that you will touch your face far more regularly whilst wearing one.
Some have claimed that the wearing cloth masks for any significant period of time reduces the amount of oxygen breathed in, increases the amount of carbon dioxide,
– and that this can cause various health issues.
This has been largely proven not to be true for people in good health, however the situation is different if you already have any kind of respiratory problems.
A claim that is much harder to disprove, becomes it is eminently and obviously true, is that mask wearing often leads to a false sense of security.
People will stand and talk ‘face to face’ when wearing a mask, perhaps just a foot or two apart, in a way they almost certainly wouldn’t do if they were not “masked up”.
Typically, because masks muffle sound, people will speak more loudly whilst wearing them, with more force, and expel more, potentially contaminated droplets.
There is also evidence that due to an increased feeling of “security”, a feeling of “being protected”,
– people often become less vigilant with respect to their hand hygiene.
This is potentially a very serious problem, given that whilst wearing a mask they will almost certainly also be touching it, and their face in general, far more frequently.
Claim 3: “Mask wearing in shops will encourage people to return to shopping on the High Street”.
The government has gambled that more people will lose the intense fear that has been driven into them on a daily basis for the last six months, and go out shopping again, now that it is a legal requirement to wear a face mask in most retail outlets,
– than will decide that they really don’t want to wear a mask just to shop on the High Street, and either not buy things at all, or just order them from Amazon and wait for them to turn up on their doorstep.
Given the absence of any scientific justification, it would be reasonable to assume that this was one of the primary “drivers” behind mandating mask wearing in shops.
If you are extremely fearful of Covid-19,
– are you really going to feel more comfortable going into shops, now that the vast majority of other shoppers’ faces are hidden by masks?
Seems unlikely to me.
Since the introduction of the new laws, going to a supermarket is like entering the set of post-apocalypse movie.
Whether you personally are wearing a mask or not, it’s really, really not a pleasant experience.
Absolutely everyone (other than the staff, possibly) in the store has one thought on their mind, “let’s get outta here”, and as soon as possible.
Humans use facial expressions to communicate,
– not being able to see the majority of someone’s face consciously, or sub-consciously disturbs most of us. It’s not normal,
It’s not “new normal”. It’s just uncomfortable on many levels, and will always remain so. Not “normal” at all.
Unsurprisingly, all the early evidence shows that “the gamble has failed”.
On the whole, people have become more scared, not less, and have altered their behaviour accordingly,
– as a result footfall on the High Street and in Shopping Centres has gone down since mask wearing has been mandated, not up.
So, if this continues the government will just repeal the law requiring mask to be worn in shops , right?
No of course it won’t. This is a government that never admits it is wrong. And it has the “no lose” scenario mentioned earlier to fall back on.
I believe there is also another large agenda here, around the take up of vaccines, if/when one or more of them become available.
A lot of people will rightly be very wary of having a vaccine which has been rushed through clinical trials, possibly in well under a year, compared to the normal cycle of 10 to 15 years, injected into their body.
If, like Boris, you believe such people are just “silly anti-vaxxers”, you may care to watch this:
I predict mask wearing will continue to be enforced until a vaccine becomes widely available, at which point we will all be encouraged to take it, and to obtain a certificate proving that we have done.
An electronic versions of this has already been developed, it’s known as “covi-pass”.
I suspect, perhaps early next year,
– if you can prove you have been vaccinated, by having your covi-pass scanned at the door, you will be able to go into a shop without a mask, probably also travel abroad, a lot of your the personal freedoms we previously took for granted will be returned to you,
– if you can not, then strict restrictions on your liberty and on how you live your life will continue.
Whether this seems reasonable to you or not will probably depend on your outlook.
Note: I wrote the above paragraphs at the start of August, two weeks later, Australia announced it was looking at doing ‘exactly this’, to effectively force everyone to take the new vaccine(s)
Personally I don’t think it is.
What if none of the vaccines currently in development work, or have such serious long terms side effects as to render them useless?
Good question. Potentially we’ll all be legally required to wear masks for a very long time, in a wide variety of different scenarios.
I’m not sure I would want to be one of the first to take the Covid-19 vaccine which has been very rapidly pushed through trials in Russia…
– or even the one being developed in Oxford:
We now know that Sir Patrick Vallance has £600k in shares of a company which attempting to develop a vaccine for Covid-19
– and that Sweden believes it may be close to achieving herd immunity
We may be closer to herd immunity in the UK that was previously thought, partly because we “Locked Down” later than many other countries, but mostly because most of us have more defences against the virus than specific antibodies, as are gained from having been exposed to it.
This fact is widely acknowledged amongst medical experts, yet Sir Patrick seems curiously unaware of it.
Or if he is, he never mentions it. All he ever talks about is the number who have antibodies. Strange…
It appears from the latest research that 20 to 50% of people may have T cells which react to, and often successfully fight off, Covid-19, despite that person never having been exposed to the virus previously.
If Sir Partrick isn’t aware of this research, then he “sure as Hell” should be.
At least they seem to be aware of it at a high level of government in the US
We are having strict restrictions placed on us for another six months, on the basis that only 7% of the population to date has built up antibodies, and the other 93% are therefore vulnerable to being infected. If this is in reality only 30 or 40%, everything changes.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we are going to be forced by our government to largely isolate from each other, until a vaccine becomes available, irrespective of the cost to the economy, the cost in lives, as cancer scans are missed, heart disease, liver disease goes untreated,
– deaths by many other causes rise dramatically, as many hospitals continue to remain effectively at a standstill across the UK.
Sir Patrick asserts that his keenness to “lock us all down”, at least in part, until a vaccine arrives, possibly next Spring, possibly not until the Autumn of 2021,
– has nothing at all to do with the fact he has huge investment in a company… which is developing and manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines.
(If we did acquire herd immunity, as Sweden may have already done, of course no vaccines would then be required, which one would imagine would not be great news for his, rather large, financial investment).
But there’s “no conflict of interest here”. Matt Hancock has assured us that this is the case. So nothing to worry about.
(Although rather curiously he apparently wasn’t aware that one of his Chief Scientific Adviser had a large financial interest in a company manufacturing vaccines… you may think perhaps he should have been).
Little bit strange that he “only found out about it from a newspaper report”.
Newspaper reports vary on the subject, but it seems most likely Sir Patrick did declare that he has an interest in GlaxoSmithKline, but not how huge it is.
One thing seems reasonably certain, the imposition of mask wearing isn’t going away any time soon. Very likely it will be maintained for another year, possibly longer, despite the evidence that it has any benefit in reducing virus transmission “not being strong”.
If you are interested in a little extra reading on the subject of cloth face masks, the following lists a lot of the studies that have been done, and their findings:
I would suggest that it is fair to conclude that mask wearing in shops was introduced without any genuine scientific justification, consequently it’s not likely it will be ended as a result of one. It was a purely political move.
For the reasons outlined above, it is almost certainly only going to be expanded for the foreseeable future.
One school has already said it will make all children and teachers wear face masks, at all times, in all school buildings:
There is zero scientific evidence that this will serve to protect anyone, in any way, it’s very widely acknowledged in the scientific community that, certainly young children, simply do not transmit the virus, to each other, or adults,
– and a whole host of evidence that forcing children and teachers to wear masks whilst indoors, at all times, will achieve precisely nothing, other than make their lives miserable.
Anyone who has worn a cloth mask for several hours will confirm… it’s really not pleasant.
Not that those in charge of Holmes Chapel school in Cheshire care. They’re too busy patting each other on the back for being “the most caring school in the UK”.
What a virtuous, extremely caring bunch they really are.
Extremely caring, or just stupid. “You decide”.
** September 25th update
We now have many schools across the UK requiring children aged 12 and above to wear face masks in communal areas
– because the WHO, which is essentially run by China, and for the benefit of China, suddenly decided that this should happen.
(Meanwhile life in China has returned to normal. They have a totalitarian regime which was able to introduce sufficiently harsh measures, for a sufficiently long time, that they were able to successfully eliminate the virus… which they exported to the world at the end of 2019/early 2020).
We have an increasingly totalitarian regime in the UK, making dramatic decisions about people’s lives, essentially “who lives and who dies”, almost on a daily basis,
– if you have developed cancer over the past few months, you could well end up dying through lack of scans and early treatment.
These previously easily accessible, seen as vital things, have not been available to hundreds of thousands of people who needed them over recent months, as a result of devoting so much NHS capacity to dealing with potential Covid-19 cases. Most of which never arrived.
At the time of writing around 30 people a day are dying from Covid-19, around 450 from cancer.
So now that we have government prepared to trample all over civil liberties, impose draconian restrictions, indefinitely, and backed by the army, essentially heading down the road of China’s,
– why don’t we try and eliminate the virus in the UK?
I cover this extensively under the tab: “https://petedurnell.com/covid-19-how-did-we-get-into-this-mess-and-how-do-we-get-out/”
Essentially we could. It would be extremely costly, but we could do it.
The real problem would arise once it had been achieved, what then?
In 2019 London’s 6 airports saw around 100 million people arrive in the UK, even if this was reduced down to a fraction in 2021, say 10 million,
– how can we possibly “police” a 14 day quarantine for this number of people?
It would only take one or two people to “slip through the net”, and we would have to return to locking down large parts of the country again.
Something along these lines actually happened in New Zealand, they effectively managed to eliminate Covid-19, for a short, then a couple of Brits brought it back in to the country, and some incredibly strict restrictions were immediately initiated in an attempt to eliminate it again.
Unless the rest of the world also eliminates the virus, there is little point in a country like the UK, with the huge numbers of people who flood in and out of it, attempting to do so. Unless, we are prepared to largely close our borders for an extended period of time afterwards
(as New Zealand has done, I believe currently until March 2021, and very likely to be extended)
Employers across the UK will be leaping on the bandwagon, wanting to “virtue signal”, wanting to show how caring they are about their employees, and in pursuit of this goal, will start mandating the wearing of masks in offices.
Many employers are already considering it. The UK government has been actively considering it. It will happen. In a number of offices across the UK I feel sure it already has.
France announced on 18/08/2020 that face masks be worn in most offices: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53817383
Some towns and cities in France have recently made mask wearing compulsory in outdoor public places.
This, despite the fact that there is no evidence that an outbreak of Covid-19 has “sprung” from an outdoor gathering, anywhere in the world.
Study after study has shown that it is extremely difficult to pass the virus on outdoors, droplets are instantly taken away on even the slightest breeze.
A study in China showed, from 318 outbreaks, 317 of them took place indoors. The single outdoor one was probably down to physical contact.
Just how rare transmission of Covid-19 is “outdoors” is now backed up by a mountain of anecdotal evidence,
– we have seen packed beaches, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, huge numbers of people in relatively close proximity outdoors in the UK, in the US,
– but precisely zero Covid-19 outbreaks recorded as a result.
This hasn’t stopped France’s power-crazed leaders exercising their newly acquired powers.
Next step, mask wearing at home.
Think I’m joking?
It’s already being openly discussed in some states in America.
Claim 4: Wearing a mask will reduce transmission of the virus, and hasten a return to “Pre-Covid19” life.
Very probably not, and ‘”definitely not”.
There is no end date for mask wearing in shops to cease, no conditions have been specified, which if met, will see the legislation repealed.
It’s vitally important to remember that mandating more and more mask wearing, in more and more scenarios, is a political move, and it is not based on science. It’s essentially “virtue signalling” at a government level.
The nanny state is looking after us all, by forcing us to wear cloth masks, which may slightly protect others, but through improper use, lead to us getting infected ourselves.
Thanks nanny state.
Despite this article, claiming that they changed their advice on face mask wearing “as a result of evolving evidence”
– the World Health Organisation (WHO) later admitted it actually changed it as a result of political pressure, from governments around the globe.
There is no “evolving evidence”.
These governments wanted an excuse to grab more powers, so pressured the WHO to give them one. The WHO duly obliged.
Politicians will tell you that 29 WHO studies showed that wearing face masks reduces virus transmission”
– they will forget to mention that 26 of these studies took place in a hospital, and the three that didn’t, did not involve Covid-19.
This is typical of the kind of duplicity being shown by governments, desperate to try to “keep the pandemic going”, in the hope it will disguise the fact that they crashed the economies of the countries they are running, for “no good reason”. So they inflate statistics, and introduce ever more restrictions.
And if they can’t inflate statistics enough to justify removing more of our personal liberties, they will claim they are being implemented to prevent a so-called “Second Wave”. This will be later trumpeted as a huge success, as it was never going to arrive anyway.
We may well see a decent size Second Wave of cases, but for a variety of reasons this is unlikely to translate into a large Second Wave of deaths.
At all times we should be balancing up Covid-19 deaths against the deaths we are causing through missed cancer scans, scans for heart problems etc.
We really do not seem to be doing this.
One thing is beyond question, on the back of Covid-19, “ruling classes” all over the world have grabbed new, sweeping powers over their “subjects”,
– history very clearly shows, once you have a power, sooner or later you will submit to the immense temptation to use it.
And once you have grabbed a whole bunch of powers, you are unlikely to stop there.
We are living through the creating of a totalitarian state. And right now it’s “Dead ahead”.
If you think this is an exaggeration, here is the dictionary definition:
“A form of government which permits little or no individual freedom, and seeks to subordinate all aspects of life to the authority of the state”
“Any views which do not conform will be suppressed and punished”.
Boris Johnson went out of his way in his latest speech to encourage anyone with a different view to effectively be “rounded upon” by those who do conform to his group think.
His way, is the only way.
Anyone who suggests differently, should be brought back into conformity.
This can be done through punishment, or simply making sure their views are disregarded, preferably not even voiced/heard. We have already been encouraged to “snitch on our neighbours”.
West Midlands Police has apparently been deluged with people doing just this.
So many reports they simply can’t investigate them all.
At least not until they get back up from the army.
And all this, justified as necessary in order to deal with a virus which has 99.7% survival rate, almost exclusively kills the very elderly, or people who were already extremely ill (much as virus always do, but has usually been ‘flu in the past)
There remains no reliable scientific evidence to support the claims that wearing masks in shops will reduce transmission of Covid-19.
All the evidence shows that, overwhelmingly, Covid-19 transmission generally takes place within the home. Not in shops. Certainly not outdoors.
Wearing a cloth mask may provide a small benefit, in a very small number of scenarios, by reducing the distance infected droplets travel, and therefore the chances someone else may breathe them in,
– however, this “benefit” may in reality be outweighed by inadvertent mask contamination, leading to the wearer becoming infected with the virus,
– and, as a result of ‘feeling safe’, reducing social distancing / failing to maintain rigorous hand hygiene.
(There have been small outbreaks traced to restaurants and bars/pubs, the two places where we are not required to wear masks in the UK. “Go figure”.
Obviously it’s impossible to eat and drink whilst wearing a cloth mask.
However, not only is it being deemed “safe”, we are actively being encouraged to visit restaurants, spend perhaps two hours sitting, without a mask, in close vicinity to a considerable number of other people,
– but supposedly we need One Way Systems, and to wear masks in shops, because if we were to walk past someone, travelling in the opposite direction to us, and as a result, spend a fraction of a second within two metres of that person…. without a piece of cloth covering our nose and face,
– that would be “dangerous”.
I am not a virologist. Or an epidemiologist. I would suggest I don’t need to be either of these in order to determine that this is pure nonsense.)
If you wish to wear a piece of cloth over your face when you shop, fine, chances are, if you are making that choice, you will probably also be following, or at least mostly following, the strict rules around storing it, putting it on, maintaining hand hygiene whilst wearing, and taking it off.
However people who have no desire to wear a mask, but also do not want to “disobey”, will very likely reuse the same piece of cloth many times, not store it properly, and not put it on/take it off in the manner needed to avoid contamination.
These people are actually being placed at risk by making mask wearing in shops a legal requirement.
I would suggest it’s painfully obvious, if you just look around you on a shopping trip, that the vast majority of people are not abiding by all the requirements for safe face mask use, and no amount of public health advertisements is likely to change this.
There has never been a single recorded case of someone catching Covid-19 as a result of walking past an infected person in a shop, or by breathing in air which contains droplets from an infected person who perhaps has recently passed by that same spot. Not one.
None. Zero. Nowhere in the world is there any record of this happening.
(As for people worried about passing by someone walking in the opposite direction on “a narrow path”, please just stop it. Stop worrying. There’s almost certainly more chance of you being hit by lightning on that same, “dangerously narrow path”,
– yet almost every day someone in a tourist area is interviewed on TV, usually Devon or Cornwall, and complains that “we only have narrow paths here, it’s very worrying”. No it isn’t. It really isn’t, or shouldn’t be.)
The imposition of masks in ever more walks of life, is like a juggernaut, careering down a hill.
The only way it will be stopped is if the public wise up, rise up, and say “No”.
It will take a lot of people, “standing in the way of it”, and they will be roundly abused by both establishment figures, and the large proportion of the UK public who have been filled with pure fear over the past six months.
A great deal of abuse will be hurled by “the fearful”
– straight at those brave enough to throw themselves in the path of “The Mask Juggernaut”, with its non-stop virtue signalling driver and passengers, all determined to plough straight through them.
We now have a significant proportion of the UK public eager and willing to believe literally anything that the government tells them, as long as it involves a claim that potentially it will lessen the chances of them being infected with Covid-19,
– despite the fact that the UK government’s record on doing this to date is extremely poor.
Arguably amongst the worst in the world.
This group of people will very happily, instantly and violently condemn anyone who goes dares go against government guidance, having realised it is very often simply “complete nonsense”.
(Remember “the picnic ban”, when we were told it was too dangerous to walk to a nearby empty field or park, and eat a picnic, potentially half a mile from the nearest human being,
– or when joggers were hounded by police in London if they paused for a moment to get their breath back, because “being stationary whilst outdoors”, was deemed to be highly dangerous, and illegal? It would be nice to say common sense has now prevailed, largely it clearly still hasn’t).
For these reasons, sadly, any rebellion against the pointless wearing of masks in supermarkets very probably won’t succeed,
– and consequently the inexorable spread of mandatory mask wearing into every aspect of our lives will continue unabated.
However I will personally continue to do my best to highlight the stupidities and inconsistencies of government policies regarding mask wearing, at every possible opportunity,
– whilst fully expecting to end up ultimately with the tyre marks of “The Mask Juggernaut” across my forehead.