Bas les masques

The masks are starting to come off and guess what? It’s not pretty.

As confinement in the EU lifts despite ongoing concern about the Delta variant, restrictions are softening. It’s a tricky question as to whether this is too early or not. Vaccination is moving ahead but there are still many recalcitrants. I don’t have figures for Switzerland, although I know a couple of people in my own entourage who are very shy of the shot, but in general the numbers are not reassuring.

In France it seems fewer than half of those who work in care homes — yes, care homes, aka EPHADs, which house the elderly and vulnerable — have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19. Medical personnel appear to be among the greatest vaccine sceptics, especially the nursing staff.

Should vaccines be mandatory for all those who work in medical and care capacities? This is so basic that I just don’t get how it’s even a debate. Yet it’s far from the case and a subject of some controversy at least in France, land of libérté. But what about égalité and fraternité? I am a firm believer in the rule that individual freedom stops where it impinges on the right of others to live. So I vote yes for obligatory vaccination in the case of anyone whose job demands contact with the public. No one should have to get a vaccine if they choose not to, but in this case they should stay home to protect themselves as well as others.

I went to an indoor setting for the first time this week sans masque, and it felt strange indeed. Health clubs are now allowed to function without face coverings in Switzerland, and frankly after sweating my face off on the elliptical for the past few weeks, it was a relief to be able to breathe properly while exercising. But it still seemed a little risky entering a confined space with no protection, and I wonder if everybody else felt that way.

It seems the masks are off in more than one sense. People are once again revealing themselves and their beliefs. Rebels, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, those who don’t believe science or the media or anyone at all. People who think a Covid shot contains something that will make them magnetic.

Some people, I’m certain, have simply gotten quite comfortable hiding behind their masks. As odd as it felt to first wear a mask in public, I think a lot of people now feel a little naked without one. And some, according to my daughter, have become quite adept at making faces behind them.

How do you feel about wearing a mask?

24 comments

  1. Colin Bisset · July 1

    It’s been so relaxed in Australia for so long that it was quite a shock to have rising cases in Sydney and elsewhere again. I had to search for my masks but it was reassuring to go to the shops and see everyone in them again. No dissent. The vaccine roll-out has been pretty disastrous here with only 4% vaccinated. Much of the hesitancy is down to government fumbling and mixed messages. I’m happy to have whatever’s going – and even perfectly willing to walk around again with my glasses all steamed up, thanks to the mask…

    • MELewis · July 1

      It’s indeed impressive how devious the virus variant is to get by your country’s strict entry requirements! Can only imagine how it must feel to have a rise in cases now when the vaccine roll-out is still in its infancy. As you say, whatever it takes. Bon courage!

  2. davidprosser · July 1

    I’m actually exempt from wearing a mask but I’ve chosen to wear one a lot of the time as it seems to make people around me feel more secure. It’s a small price to pay as it also stops people asking why I’m not in a mask even when I’m wearing an exemption badge. I hope you continue to remain safe despite the poor take up of the vaccination there. It’s made me laugh that two friends have actually asked if they can run a magnet over my arms to see if I’m magnetic. I allowed it though telling them that silly conspiracy theories are leaving them more open to catching one of the nastier variants going round. As for care staff and nursing staff, they should bee happy to take the vaccine to protect their wards.
    Huge Hugs

    • MELewis · July 1

      Thanks, David. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me to know you wear the mask despite the exemption out of consideration of others.🤗 I would say that the vaccination of the general population here in Switzerland is still pretty good so I’m not too worried. How funny about those crazy theories, eh? Bises to you!

  3. Ally Bean · July 1

    “People are once again revealing themselves and their beliefs.”

    You said it. The lack of masks makes me anxious because I don’t trust people to begin with, let alone to be honest about having been vaccinated. I am not wearing a mask now when I enter large stores, but haven’t been out to eat inside a restaurant yet. I guess I’m kind of hedging on the whole thing, waiting to see what happens next, fingers crossed it’ll be good.

    • MELewis · July 1

      What else can we do but be cautious and hope for the best? It’s crazy to have to rely on others for our basic safety, but there we are. I guess it’s the same thing when we cross the road, assuming cars will stop (and in some cases that trust is clearly not well placed!) You’d think us all being in the same boat would make it easier, but somehow it doesn’t. 🤞

  4. Suzanne et Pierre · July 1

    Wearing masks indoor is still mandatory in Quebec and in most of Canada even when you are fully vaccinated. The masks should drop from the restrictions toward the end of the summer when at least 75% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Vaccines take up in Canada has been pretty good but we obviously have pockets of resistance mostly in young people who haven’t been as vulnerable to the disease. Personally, I am probably going to continue wearing a mask in large public indoor settings for a while because I don’t trust the ventilation systems. Our authorities are very slow in admitting that this virus is airborne and that ventilation plays a role in spreading the virus. I am now fully vaccinated so I am not worried about catching the virus as I probably wouldn’t get sick much so I have allowed myself to do the “bise” with my siblings and cuddles with my great-niece and nephews.

    As for vaccine hesitancy in people working with public, I agree that they should get vaccinated. In Quebec, in care homes and hospitals, if someone doesn’t want to be vaccinated they have to be tested 3 times a week and if they refuse to be tested then they are moved to other duties that don’t involve dealing with people or they can be fired if there aren’t any other job they can do. The hope is that people will get vaccinated as being tested 3 times a week isn’t very pleasant. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · July 1

      Very interesting to hear how things are on the Québec side of Canada. From what I hear, Ontario has also been slow to take the necessary measures to protect its population. I think ventilation is a big part of the risk, and perhaps one advantage we have here in Europe where the buildings are less ‘étanche’ and people regularly open windows wide to air out rooms. We are going for our second jabs next weekend, even though we theoretically only need one having had Covid. But I’ll do whatever is necessary to facilitate travel and have less hassle at the airport when the time comes. Thanks for sharing, Suzanne!

  5. kairosia · July 1

    I’ve found people pretty compliant both in my state and in places I’ve traveled recently. Surprisingly, air travelers I encountered obeyed the letter and spirit of the regulations.

    I’m happy to say too that our state government has done a smashing job of getting people vaccinated. At this writing, we are just under 70%.

    Your comment about health care workers and care facilities staff rings true here as well. The unvaccinated represent that portion of our society responsible for hospitalizations and continuing deaths by coronavirus.

    Truth be told, I’m more than happy to go maskless these days. Most restrictions have been lifted here, so that fewer and fewer establishments require them. If they do, we comply, no question, like slowing down for a construction zone, doing what is necessary to maintain a safe community.

    • MELewis · July 1

      Good news for your state and happy that you are able to feel safe! We are not there yet but hopefully will be by the end of the summer. The wild card is the viral variant like Delta, although I think for the fully vaccinated the risk of serious illness is low. I think people are so grateful to be able to travel again, they are willing to put up with whatever is required. Let’s see how long that lasts, though, and whether the airlines or authorities will take advantage of the situation to impose yet more constraints upon the already over-regulated air traveller.

  6. George Lewis · July 1

    Those who refuse to wear a mask should be immediately fired and refused unemployment . We do not need these idiots in the gene pool

    • MELewis · July 1

      I don’t personally know of anyone who refuses to wear a mask when it’s required, although there is a movement of anti-maskers. It’s more those who refuse to get vaccinated who worry me. What’s stopping them other than irrational fear?

  7. Taste of France · July 1

    I get my second shot of AZ tomorrow and can’t wait. I am glad to be able drop the mask on the street, though I wear one if the street is crowded. Much of the time, I’m the only person on the block, in which case it really serves no purpose but is unpleasant in the heat. Always a mask indoors, since I’m not yet fully vaccinated and anyway, it isn’t like it’s written on our foreheads.
    A friend got upbraided at an outdoor stand–she wasn’t wearing a mask but was 2 meters from the next person. Also she’s fully vaccinated. It was the 2 out of 3 rule–distance, mask, vaccination; she had distance and vaccination. The next person was wearing a mask and ripped into my friend. The other person, it turns out, was not vaccinated and had no intention of doing so because “it changes your DNA.” So there you go. Crazies. At least this crazy was wearing a mask; often anti-vax and anti-mask go hand in hand.
    Delta sounds very worrisome: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/24/its-in-the-air-you-breathe-what-you-need-to-know-about-sydneys-delta-covid-variant

    • MELewis · July 4

      There is a lot of confusion around safe and proper social-distancing behaviours and I see every possible interpretation of the rules — from blatant disregard, to apathy to Nazi-like enforcement. Outdoors seems to be less of an issue so I’m pretty relaxed in those settings, unless in a crowd or a public-transport platform. But vaccination is our greatest weapon and, despite Delta’s undeniably greater transmission rates, it does not seem to be overwhelming the hospital wards in the UK where it’s now dominant. I understand that vaccinated people, if infected, get a much milder disease with more sneezing and headache but no longer loss of smell or taste and rarely cough. So perhaps it will wear itself out with all this jumping around among (mostly) vaccinated people? Australia is scary as they have few vaccinated people and are hitting winter season. Glad you got your 2nd shot and good on you for not worrying about the flavour!

  8. acflory · July 2

    This re care workers: ‘No one should have to get a vaccine if they choose not to, but in this case they should stay home to protect themselves as well as others.’ Yes.
    I’m not an antivaxxer, and the Offspring has had both jabs of Pfizer, but here in Australia over 60’s only have one choice: AstraZeneca or nothing. I choose nothing, at least until my stupid govt gets enough of the other vaccines to offer them to us elderly…-snort-
    Having said all that I suppose I should explain that the reason I’m not getting the AZ is because I /can/ self isolate. The Offspring and I went into iso. in March 2020 and we haven’t really come out. Thus for me, the risk of dying of covid is zero. The risk of dying from AZ is small, but it /is/ a risk. I fear that with my luck, I’ll be one of those very unlucky people who has complications, or dies. So…cowardice, pure and simple.

    • MELewis · July 4

      Your approach is entirely sensible and I understand your feelings. I think you follow Dr. John, did you see his latest video on possible explanation of the AZ clotting problem? Very interesting indeed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3lx6Scwfhg) Hopefully you will get more options as time goes on and be able to enjoy coming out of isolation again. Being vaccinated does take a huge load of worry away, even if it’s not a panacea.

      • acflory · July 4

        Mel…I cannot thank you enough! I’ve just watched the video and posted a quick article about it because it’s so important.
        I’ve had tunnel vision lately because I’ve been writing a lot so I haven’t been keeping up with Dr John. Seriously, thank you. -huge hugs-

      • MELewis · July 5

        So glad it was helpful! I can’t follow all the updates as there are too many but that one in particular struck me as brilliant! Dr. John deserves to be knighted after all the public service he has done on getting good information out there.

      • acflory · July 5

        I’d nominate him in a heartbeat, Mel. I used to watch his videos every morning, but since I’ve started writing again, I simply don’t have the time. I’m going to have make time to tune in at least once a week because he is such good value. -hugs-

  9. Dale · July 2

    I’m glad I read Suzanne’s reply so I don’t need to 😉 My company is opening up to voluntary return to the office this coming week and the following; two weeks from now, the offices will be officially open with half staff working on alternate days – not including me who has been stuck in the *&^% office mostly by myself for the last three weeks – don’t bother asking. I’m in a good mood now and don’t feel like feeling foul.

    They say in “green” zones the wearing of masks is voluntary IF you are able to stay 2 metres apart. We are choosing to wear them. No way you can stand six feet apart in our corridors so when walking around, mask is on. I went for breakfast with my sisters, mother and my father’s widow (we’re friendly like that!) and only once seated did we remove our masks. I’m frankly good with that. I’m doubly vaxxed, as it my mother; the others are waiting for their turns.

    I agree that if you work in care facilities, you need to protect your patients.

    • MELewis · July 4

      Glad to hear this, Dale! Love that your extended family is able to enjoy brunch out together. Fully vaxxed and still with masks probably makes sense until the bloody variants die off (I’m optimistic!). And while it’s not fun being ‘forced’ to go to the office while everybody is still out, I hope it will be nice to have a few more peeps around as things open up. We’re pretty well in the same position here, but I do hear worrying stories every day about those who refuse to vaccinate. Why can’t people see we’re all in this together? 😒

      • Dale · July 4

        It was really nice and now we know we have to organise a supper because we had so much to catch up on but were getting he evil eye by those waiting in line for their turn! We have to be optimistic!
        I don’t understand those people. If for no other reason than to be able to start living again, just do it.

  10. eyelean · July 8

    Sort of late to the party on this post. I thought I’d just add that (and I heard someone very sensible on the radio point this out the other day) “soignants” in France already have a number of mandatory vaccinations, so we’re actually just talking about adding COVID to the list. Which puts things a little more in perspective. As a teacher, I jumped on vaccination as fast as possible. I guess there’s talk of requiring teachers to get it. To which I say the more the merrier, but we won’t really be safe till our students get the shot. Our situation feels like the reverse of the EHPADs—the young, relatively COVID risk-free can pass it on to US who can then pass it on to our families… and we are surrounded by them, in groups of 25 to 35, all day long, in rooms where people whine when you open the window. I mean, it’s summer vacation now, but it was a hard winter, so there’s still some bitterness there…

    • MELewis · July 9

      I can only imagine how stressful it must have been to continue teaching throughout the winter while the risk was higher and the vaccinations only beginning. Fully agree (obviously) that this vax should be added to the list for healthcare pros, just as other vaccines are required. I remember my daughter having to get some shots or other a few years back when she travelled to Africa. It is only right and normal to protect others and ourselves! Here’s hoping that the jabs are soon approved for children so we can go into the next season relatively care free.

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