Rule Number One

Some of the coronavirus debates have become more than a little tiresome, haven’t they? My sense of frustration rises when discussion starts to defy what few facts we do possess. The most basic of which is Rule Number One: the coronavirus is transmitted by direct and/or indirect person to person contact, most commonly through respiration, far less commonly through fomites. Arguments that lockdowns/restrictions don’t work are defeated by Rule Number One.

But Sweden, but the Dakotas, but California. If you’ve used them to argue against lockdowns, you’ve gone wrong from the word go. If you don’t understand why, I refer you to Rule Number One. We can chat about differing levels of effectiveness. We can discuss the cost/benefit effect of restrictions on the economy. I’m well aware that there are potential scenarios, likely to be had with a future pandemic, where we are forced to carry on and accept a billion or three will die. But Lockdowns Don’t Work is an argument that belongs to the death cults and conspiracy theorists.

Face masks are contentious. Some people get weirdly irate or contemptuous at people who wear masks outdoors. Or when driving alone. I don’t doubt that there are a few people who wear them in their living rooms in the evening while doing a spot of knitting. Perhaps they’re knitting more masks. Just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure. Covid infected burglars, maybe. But I just don’t care. Is face mask sex a thing? To be fair, this could be the breakthrough than teetotal ugly people have been waiting for.

They’re not hurting anyone. If I got all upset every time someone did something weird but inconsequential, I’d be permanently upset. I don’t want to be permanently upset. But I do get a little bit irked at the few attention seeking ‘anti-maskers’ who are just getting all a bit precious. Especially the ones who wear exemption lanyards without good reason.

I’m reasonably satisfied that wearing a face mask is effective in some situations. For example, if several people have to spend a short period of time in a poorly ventilated room. I’m equally satisfied that they are largely pointless in other situations. At worst, face masks can reasonably be considered as ‘worth a go’ given the circumstances. I’m also absolutely certain that face masks have to go when restrictions are removed. At the point when most people are vaccinated, everything is open, social distancing is abandoned and levels of infection are so low that there is no infection for all practicable purposes. Face masks are very much a supplementary device to aid other restrictions in preventing transmission during outbreaks.

I’ve been generally happy to wear a face mask when required over the last year. It’s really not terribly oppressive. But I suspect that this will be the last restriction to go. I suspect that many companies and organisations are going to try and drag this out, as a visible demonstration that they are ‘doing something’. Theatre, in other words. I’ve already turned down the chance to buy tickets to a horse racing festival in August, because the conditions include wearing a face mask at all times when not eating and drinking. This sort of nonsense will irk me. Hugely. Not because I will have to pointlessly wear a mask. Because at some point, I’ll decide that this is just ridiculous, so I won’t. But the stupidity of it all will make me wear an exemption lanyard, and then I’ll be on the same side as the ‘anti-mask’ idiots. Sort of.


7 thoughts on “Rule Number One

  1. William says:

    Back home I never wear a mask when I am going out for a walk. If I am passing someone it is easy enough to keep my distance. But my suburban town in Ohio is a far cry from Mexico City. Even though I am fully vaccinated, I do not step outside without putting on my N85. Here it is impossible not to be close to others on the city sidewalks. The majority of people here seem to take the virus seriously, but besides those who just don’t give a darn, there are so many people who are walking down the street eating or drinking or smoking who have their masks lowered, and of course at the food stands which are everywhere there are throngs of unmasked people.


    • Even in CDMX, the risk of catching a virus outdoors is really very low. But the risk exists and at the end of the day, whatever works for you in making you feel comfortable, also works for businesses in Mexico City.


      • William says:

        My extreme cautiousness is more about concern for my “Mexican family” than about worry for myself. My friend is at risk and still does not know when he will receive the vaccine.


  2. Where I live in Mexico, the place has been mask-free (generally) since the onset of the virus — and our infection rate has been peculiarly low. But I draw no lesson from that because the variables are so many. I readily accept that your Rule Number One is correct. Simply because it is.

    As for wearing masks, I am a bit like you. I wear them where I am required to wear them and it does very little damage to my personal sovereignty (though I suspect I surrendered that long ago to Facebook). Put me down, as you would say as “meh.” I suspect that is due partly to virus fatigue.

    So, I will don a mask on my trip north to Oregon, just as I wore one on my journey through Sam’s Club in search of toilet paper, and the world will go rolling along without hysterical outbursts over my inability to live other people’s lives for them.


    • Long may your area be free of virus. It’s probably not the type of town that is at greatest risk of this sort of virus. I guess. We dodged the first wave here in the South West. It was the second that made itself known around here. It was probably made all the worse because of virus/restriction fatigue.


  3. norm says:

    I was getting my morning paper at the local gas station this morning, I was the only one with a mask of the four other people in the store. A guy with a Glock strapped to his hip asked about my mask. I pulled down my mask and coughed on him, told him I had the virus about four weeks ago. He left me alone.


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