Dear Boston: I’ll Wear a Mask Outdoors When You Require Them Indoors.
The Atlantic wrote an article recently about the ironic and illogical nature of certain pandemic rules and regulations, and how this leads to people feeling frustrated, confused, and ultimately throwing up their hands.
Some of these absurd rules include: being told not to gather with friends or family (enclosed spaces with a few people) and yet, we are all still allowed to go out and eat or drink in restaurants and bars (enclosed spaces with a lot of people). Another one: somehow we have decided that wearing a mask outdoors, when nowhere near other people, is an effective and important means of prevention of COVID. Yet, again, people can still go and sit indoors with a group of people to eat and drink, without masks and in close confines.
It is nearly impossible to catch COVID outside, even without a mask on, when you aren’t close to anyone. Especially if there is even a slight breeze in the air. This is about as low risk for COVID as you can get. Spending time inside though, without great airflow, and around people all breathing into the air? Way higher risk.
Thus, requiring masks when people are walking around outside in the open air, while continuing to keep restaurants and bars open where a bunch of people congregates indoors without masks? This will do nothing to reduce or curb the spread of COVID. On the contrary, these dopey, illogical regulations will continue to help the spread of COVID. Wearing masks outside is a silly, ineffective, non-solution. It’s one purely for show but which does little to nothing towards reducing COVID (exception: if you are standing in a tightly packed crowd outside, then yes, wear a mask).
So, why is this happening with regards to nonsensical COVID rules?
America is still basing their COVID reduction strategies and safety policies on the possibility, premise, and hope of bringing in a monetary profit. They are doing this instead of basing it on logic and legit science. This is an example of American idiocy, toxic capitalism, and greed at its finest. Things like this are exactly why we have such a terrible reputation around the world right now.
One of my close friends lives in Iceland. COVID has been nearly non-existent there for the last several months. Recently, they were inching up in numbers again. They had roughly 30 cases of COVID a day. I know, nothing next to the U.S. rates. Yet, they closed everything down as soon as this happened. Gyms, restaurants, all public places closed. This is why, even though their numbers have spiked recently, they will get things under control again, and likely soon.
Three of my close friends live in Germany. Right now, they are under lockdown. All bars, restaurants, gyms, cafes, etc are closed. This is, again, because their numbers were rising. They are hoping to re-open in the next couple of weeks once the rates get more under control.
The U.S.? We have yet to get it under control. Why is that? Because we have never reacted with the seriousness to it that so many other countries have. We base our policies on profit potential and not on science or public health.
COVID isn’t going to vanish anytime soon. It will dissipate, then flare up again. It will recede, then have a brief moment of resurgence. This is normal, similar to how it is with the flu. So it isn’t disappearing. But what can be done is to react in such a way that, when the numbers do spike, we take it seriously enough to reduce the numbers once again, shortly thereafter. And this will involve making policies not based on profit but on science. And it means making rules based on logic.
We have not and are not doing this.
Boston, and America in general, cannot ask me or any other person, in all seriousness and in good faith, to wear masks while outside in open air (“or else” we could be fined hundreds of dollars), while also telling us, “but it’s all good to go inside with a crowd and eat, though make sure to keep those masks on when outdoors.”
America will never get COVID under control this way, and it isn’t because of people like me who challenge and protest ineffective stupidity like wearing masks outside. It’s because of crowds still congregating in bars, restaurants, house parties, and all the Republicans who have made wearing masks into a political statement instead of what it is truly about: a public health issue. But then, we Americans are so smart and empathetic, which is why we’re doing so well with COVID, yes?
We have got to wake up as a country and start complying with and abiding by public policies and choices which will actually matter, like avoiding big indoor gatherings right now. It will be short-term pain but which will actually, finally result in COVID beginning to dissipate. Until then, COVID is never going to be gotten under control.
Wearing a mask outdoors? This is pointless silliness, on which I will pass. Making and following rules that are actually effective and logical? I am all for it and glad to hop on board with these. We must both make and follow such rules, and as an entire country, or else America has no hope.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to be breathing fresh air when outdoors.
For an enlightening read: The Logic of Pandemic Restrictions Is Falling Apart (The Atlantic).