If you were given the option to pay taxes, would you?
There are many places around the globe that are not enforcing people to wear face masks in public, letting the individuals make their own decisions. The Belgian government, for instance, has made this statement (thanks Paul for the link), but so has our Premier (province of Ontario, Canada).
Despite the provincial statement for voluntary compliance, certain stores in my vicinity have enforced mask wearing for customers. No masks, no entry to the store.
Longo’s, a Italian family owned grocery store, says this on their website:
• All Team Members are required to wear face coverings and/or shields.
• Guests are required to wear a mask or face covering while in the store. We encourage you to bring your own face covering and appreciate seeing all the different versions many of our Guests have made at home including scarves, bandanas, and those made from t-shirts. Please ensure that your face covering covers your mouth and nose. If you don’t have a face covering, we provide single-use masks at our entrances for $1, payable at checkout, with net proceeds donated to the local food bank.
Whole Foods, which I have visited with my mom a couple of weeks ago, hands out disposable masks at the entrance which you are required to wear while inside the store.
The two or three essential stores I frequent most (Farm Boy, Shoppers Drug Mart, independent fruit and vegetable store) don’t make face coverings compulsory (yet). I always have my mask with me anyway, and typically wear it. Having said that, I tend to go to the stores when they’re relatively empty. I have not been in an environment anywhere, indoors or out, that had any sort of crowds.
In the past week, Toronto opened up a bit more. I visited a couple of non-essential stores to purchase some not-as-essential-as-food items (clothes, supplements, crafting material for the child). I wore my mask to Winners, Dollarama, and the Healthy Planet even though there was no enforcement (but plenty of encouragement).
So, the question is, how do I feel about enforced face coverings?
I will do it. I don’t have a problem following this recommendation. I don’t feel threatened that my individuality, my personal freedom or anything else has been attacked. I really don’t see what the big deal is. If it prevents the spread of an airway transmitted virus to other, more vulnerable people than me, then I’ll put on a mask.
Even though wearing a mask, and being around people who wear masks, isolates me even more than I already am.
I have mentioned this before, that I suffer from hearing loss. I had this childhood illness and it caused me to progressively lose some of my hearing over the decades. This has affected my social abilities and made me more introverted than I really want to be.
Partly, this is a good thing with recent Covid events; socializing in crowds is not allowed, recommended or encouraged in order to keep the coronavirus from spreading. I don’t like crowds and noisy environments anyway, so I don’t have a problem with this ‘ruling’.
Having said that, I am feeling even more cut off than before. If I wear a mask, and have to communicate with a mask wearing person, I feel a heightened sense of anxiety. What if I can’t make out what they’re saying to me?
I bet many people are in this same situation, especially the elderly who are already challenged with deteriorating hearing.
But here’s something I’ve learned as I navigate mask-wearing shopping trips:
The words spoken by a masked cashier (for instance) are always the same. They are predictable.
- They want to know if you brought your own bags or if you want their bags.
- They want to know if you’re paying by debit or credit (so they can punch some button on their screen).
- They say thank you for shopping, or some finale statement, before you leave.
It’s really not that complicated.
AND, it’s highly likely that many people (most?) feel similar, even if they don’t struggle with hearing loss.
It is harder to understand someone whose voice is muffled by a piece of fabric, right?
Still, I sit here on the north side of the American border, and I watch with trepidation what is happening to many States south of me.
Please stay safe. It’s not just about you.