The new measures for dealing with the spike in coronavirus infections that were announced by the health minister on Thursday do not stand up to rational scrutiny. It would appear the government was motivated more by a concern to be seen to be doing something and, perhaps, to emphasise the gravity of the situation to an increasingly sceptical public, than by any belief these measures would restrict the spread of the virus. In this, it is copying other countries.
Does anyone seriously believe that the mandatory wearing of a mask outdoors will make the slightest bit of difference? On the contrary it could cause other illnesses by depriving people of one of the main factors for good health – fresh air. It is beyond absurd to force someone walking outdoors on their own to wear a mask. Whom does the mask-wearing protect in such a case? Nobody, so why are we obliged to wear it and deprive ourselves of fresh air?
Why should anyone going for a walk in the open have to wear a mask, when up to 150 people can sit in an outdoor restaurant without a mask on and come into contact with dozens of others diners without mask ‘protection’? Does this make any sense? We will not mention that there can be 350 guests for a wedding party dinner, in a closed space, with nobody obliged to wear a mask, while a person walking in the street would have to wear a mask.
Health Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, said the masks will be obligatory everywhere except if people were exercising. Would a walk to the periptero or the bakery qualify as exercise, or would one have to wear training gear to be exempted from wearing a mask while walking? The government has probably not thought this through as the primary concern seems to be to frighten people into submission rather than protect them.
Perhaps the ultimate objective is to make people comply with the existing measures – social distancing, mandatory wearing of mask indoors, protection of the elderly through the regulation of shopping hours – which they may not be doing. There is a danger however, given the complete absurdity of wearing a mask outdoors, that people might feel they should not take any of the government measures seriously, not even the sensible ones. Not only that, outdoor mask-wearing could be a step too far in government repression which people could turn against, ignoring effective measures, such as social distancing.
We hope the government will accept that it has made a mistake about the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and scrap it as it has done in the case of other misguided coronavirus measures it had announced in the past. We do not need a measure to give the impression that something is being done about the spike in infections, when it is obvious it will achieve nothing other than make life difficult for people.