Years ago, we lived in Asia and I got somewhat used to seeing people wearing masks everywhere, although I never quite understood it. It was even more puzzling when we moved to a European tourist hub and hoards of the Asian tourists wore them everywhere. Didn’t they see no one else had them on?

I finally asked an Asian friend to explain it to me. “It’s about courtesy,” she said. “You never know what you or anyone else is carrying, so it’s to put other people at ease. It shows you respect others.”

I was well aware that the continent suffered the brunt of both SARS and Bird Flu (and I think swine flu as well?) but I have to confess, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it.

Enter, Coronavirus

Suddenly, it makes perfect sense. We are all in this worldwide pandemic and I have to admit I am now often giving strangers the side-eye. The ones with masks on put me at ease, they care about not spreading what they may or may not be carrying. They respect me.

We had to wear masks here in the Czech Republic from the very beginning. I thought it was silly. I hate having the mask on, and I wasn’t sure it even made a difference. But now we have numbers and data and the Czechs, compared with their neighbors have very, very low numbers. The numbers are so low that we are reasonably open for business now. I have no doubt this has to be down to a quick shutdown, but also the masks. Even if it’s not the masks, they sure make me feel better, especially in the grocery store.

Mask Requirement Lifted

So the question now is will people keep wearing masks after the restriction is lifted, and I think for being indoors the answer is generally yes, because it is about respect. I want to know if you are in the grocery you are not coughing or sneezing on my food. Frankly, in any indoor space I want to know that. Don’t you?

How to Wear the Mask

This really shouldn’t have to be something that is explained, but clearly, it is. The mask has to cover both your mouth and your nose.

Nose Hanging Out

So, you’ve donned a mask but don’t like the stifling feeling of it covering your nose? Too bad. Wearing it like this is the same as not wearing it at all. Even worse, people who see you are going to suspect you might be a total idiot, because why put the thing on like that? Do you want people to assume you are not the sharpest tool in the shed?

Under Your Chin

See the comments above. Seriously, if you don’t know what’s wrong with this you are not the brightest star in the sky.

If having the mask on is really uncomfortable for you, do not spend time indoors in public spaces. It’s a choice. When you walk out those doors into the fresh air, you can take the thing off, but for goodness sakes, turn your head away from people that walk by you with it on, because it shows you are not intentionally breathing on them.

Mask Haters

For those who hate masks (I totally understand) you need to comprehend that a small amount of discomfort while you are inside can stop you from being a disease vector if you are an asymptomatic carrier. Even if you are not, consider how you are making the people around you – especially those who work in whatever establishment you are patronizing – feel. Do you care? Then show it, put your mask on.

If You Refuse to Wear One Anywhere

Simple: Stay far away from those who are. They don’t want you anywhere near them.

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About Laura Keyes Ellsworth

Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.

View all posts by Laura Keyes Ellsworth

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