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The case for and against the effectiveness of face coverings and the mandating of their use

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Nicholas Lewis

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I don't see why you'd need to see everyone's face unless you are physically interacting with someone. It's just a bit of fabric that covers a part of your body, nothing else.

I don't know about anyone else on here but I don't go walking about looking at everyone's face to see their expression, instead, I walk about minding my own buisness.
When your interacting with someone its not just there voice that your listening to but also there facial expression is important part of how you relate to them and judge them.

That said whether you wish to wear a mask or not isn't sinister and its become part of our attire but will gradually drop away in due course.
 
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TheBeard

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A recent study on PTSD in ITU workers also linked lengthy use of PPE to depression. Staff who spent more than six hours a day in PPE had a 40% increased likelihood of developing depression.
Perhaps think MAn in the Iron Mask. think an old medieval punishment/torture called the Scold, which was a facemask to stop prople speaking. Perhaps some of us just aren't suited temperamentally to mask wearing
 

westv

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I don't see why you'd need to see everyone's face unless you are physically interacting with someone. It's just a bit of fabric that covers a part of your body, nothing else.

I don't know about anyone else on here but I don't go walking about looking at everyone's face to see their expression, instead, I walk about minding my own buisness.
How would you feel if many of the people you saw had no face at all?
For some, seeing half a face is the same.
 

Class320

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How would you feel if many of the people you saw had no face at all?
For some, seeing half a face is the same.

If I was interacting with someone then It'd be better to be able to see their face, but If walking past someone in the street with no interaction then being able to see their face or not isn't an issue.
 

bramling

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But the pandemic won't be "over" for several years, so will public transport/retail companies "prefer" that we wear masks indefinitely?! o_O



What's hard to understand is your definition of "a little while longer" - if you mean until all adults are able
to have their second jab, that sounds entirely reasonable to me, but some people want everyone to keep
wearing masks until the pandemic is 'over', as per my quote above, which is definitely not acceptable...





MARK

There are people who claim they “don’t want to catch Covid”. Whilst this is outwardly quite a reasonable aspiration, in practice it’s likely to be impossible whilst at the same time leading anything resembling a normal life, now it’s in general circulation and likely to remain so.

For such people, I'm not quite sure what their solution is. The situation is now that you either catch it having been vaccinated, or catch it without being vaccinated (having made a decision on weighing up the individual level of risk). There doesn't ever seem to have been a policy that people will be protected from it, apart from the shielders, and their mitigation is now the vaccine.

I guess the big question is now how many people either can't take the vaccine or can take it but its effectiveness is suspect? Are we talking about a significant number?
 

takno

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If I was interacting with someone then It'd be better to be able to see their face, but If walking past someone in the street with no interaction then being able to see their face or not isn't an issue.
As it seems necessary to constantly repeat: you do you. People are all kinds of different. The way you feel about people around you and what you need to make you feel comfortable isn't "normal" or "right" - it's just how you feel.

If people are telling you that lots of people around them wearing masks make them feel uncomfortable or distressed, it's probably because lots of people around them wearing masks makes them feel uncomfortable.

That isn't to say that others should avoid wearing - just that masks don't exist in a vaccuum, and there can be negative impacts on other people
 

johnnychips

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I thought wearing an FF3 mask - correct me if I’ve got the wrong one - conferred a x42 times advantage of not getting the virus compared to an ordinary mask.
 

nedchester

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No, I feel the same way. I hate seeing the things and dislike pictures where people are wearing them. I don't need medical treatment I need normal life to return. It's those who keep this going that need to sort it out.
I'm not a fan of masks, I find them dehumanising as I like to see peoples faces and I've not wearing them in most settings now but if it keeps you awake at night it indicates a mental health issue.
 

Bantamzen

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I don't see why you'd need to see everyone's face unless you are physically interacting with someone. It's just a bit of fabric that covers a part of your body, nothing else.

I don't know about anyone else on here but I don't go walking about looking at everyone's face to see their expression, instead, I walk about minding my own buisness.
As others have said in various threads, we are all different. However for many people, particularly in the Western world facial expressions form part of our communication in society. Being able to see someone's face allows people to read their mood, read if they are friendly or not. A simple smile when passing each other on a narrow path for example gives the message that you don't mind them being there or that you are friendly. It helps many people coexist with each other in society, puts them more at ease. Its why pre-covid people wearing masks (or something like hoodies) in public settings made people feel uncomfortable.

Now I know some would say "but in Eastern Asia....". Well all I would say to that is look up the reasons why masks came into common use in a country like Japan. What you'll find is not instant willingness to wear them "to protect others", but a fear of not being compliant. Masks in Japan are often worn by people with symptoms of colds or flu so that they can avoid the shame of taking time off work, as in cultures like Japanese taking time off for illness (or indeed holidays) is seen as a sign of weakness. However all this forced compliance comes at a terrible price. I would encourage anyone thinking that following their example is a wholly good idea do a bit of research into the mental health crisis in Japan right now. There's a reason why at more & more Japanese railway stations automatic barriers are being installed on platform fronts. Note, that is not to say there are not facets of Japanese life that we shouldn't admire.
 

seagull

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For me, the loss of an occasional unexpected smile from someone you don't know, the missing big smile of recognition from a friend, the lack of visual cues when holding a conversation, the greater difficulty in hearing words spoken, the ability of the mischievous-minded to get away with petty or worse crimes without being identified and because a mask doesn't stand out, the discomfort in hot weather of a sweaty face or in cold weather of steamed-up glasses...

All for a "benefit" that is more akin to a psychological comfort blanket like lighting candles following an atrocity, than any proven hard science. That numbers of cases increase and decrease regardless of mask mandates, and even in high compliance countries, illustrates this well.

A mask is available that of course could actually work, but unless it would be worn permanently and by everyone, nature will always win. Flu is a big killer and we live with it (without "masks").
 

Cdd89

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For me, the loss of an occasional unexpected smile from someone you don't know, the missing big smile of recognition from a friend, the lack of visual cues when holding a conversation
In contexts where I have stopped wearing masks, I’ve made an active point of trying to be more cheerful and friendly. After all if I’m just going to go around with a sour expression, what’s the point? And if someone’s having a bad day it might make them feel better. I would love to see more smiling faces in return, but pressuring people to remove their masks before they’re ready is not likely to lead to that.

Of course I’d always mask if 1) I’m in a crowded space where people who arrived before me are masked, or 2) if someone is obviously uncomfortable.
 

yorkie

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Thanks too - I thought it was only FFP3. FFP2 masks are the ones that are mandatory (or were last time I looked) on public transport in most of Germany.
No problem. My understanding is FFP2 offers a minimum of 94% filtration percentage whilst FFP3 masks offer 99%, when worn correctly.

The recent BBC article which referred to a study, which I recently linked to, compared standard masks with FFP3 and found FFP3 to be highly effective, while standard masks were ineffective, but I would imagine FFP2 would be not too far behind FFP3.

Its of course a personal choice to wear a face covering, personally I will on public transport for now certainly around the local area due to as i detailed above the cases around here are at horifically bad levels.
That is your choice but if you want to filter virus particles, you would need an FFP2/3 mask, rather than standard loose fitting masks which are found to be ineffective.


Class 33 it is of course your right not to wear one and i certainly myself wouldnt look at you / stare at you for not wearing one, however i dont think you should be surprised that a few people will at the moment.
If I saw anyone doing that, I'd be having words with them and advising them that if they wanted to be protected, they have the option of FFP2/3 and then they don't need to fuss over what other people are or aren't wearing.

Sadly it's all been about imposing authoritarianism rather than giving people the real facts and letting people make informed choices.

Now it's moved from imposing authoritarianism to being passive aggressive, at least in the case of LNER. The people who come up with this nonsense do not appear to understand the vast difference in effectiveness between proper filtration masks and standard flimsy masks, but for them it's not about science, but control.

I'm not a fan of masks, I find them dehumanising as I like to see peoples faces and I've not wearing them in most settings now but if it keeps you awake at night it indicates a mental health issue.
My mental health is fine when I am not being restricted by authoritarians and I know many others who feel a similar way.
 

TPO

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I thought wearing an FF3 mask - correct me if I’ve got the wrong one - conferred a x42 times advantage of not getting the virus compared to an ordinary mask.

Indeed. Acccording to HSE guidance on selection of RPE, a good filtering half-mask can reduce inhalation of (X substance/thing) by a maximum of a factor of about 40.

To do any better than that you you need to move up to a more complex system- for example a hood fed by air-line or from a belt-mounted filter pack. Which is why when providing RPE for use with carcinogens/things which cause occupational asthma where the legal duty is to not only reduce the level beyond the specified limit but also reduce it further so far as is reasonably practicable, we use air-fed systems. Most commonly see in use by persons spraying 2-pack cyanoacrylate paint (e.g. automotive respray).

Of course with a half-mask you also need a face-fit, plus be clean shaven, plus the RPE and seals need to be kept clean, filters changed as required and usually recommended no more than an hour at a time "in mask" due to the strain and discomfort of wearing a correctly fitted and effective half-mask.

That's basic stuff which any health and safety person who has worked much in fields with chemicals or dusts (silica, asbestos) should know about.

The scandal here IMO is not just the misrepresentation of face-coverings as anything other than a psychological tool of control, it's also that suitable RPE (by which I mean more comfortable airfed systems) was not introduced in healthcare settings when dealing with COVID patients. A decent air-fed hood (with a belt-filtration pack) is more comfortable, more effective at preventing inhalation of viruses and also protects the face fully, so would have been much better for at-risk NHS staff. Better one decent air-fed hood (some of which also have a face-draft to prevent overheating) than a multitude of layers of ineffectiveness.

Like the engineering professor who made the analogy that using face coverings to stop viruses is like trying to stop marbles with builders scaffold (or mosquitos with weld-mesh fence is another version I have heard), I wish medics would stick the things they understand (rather than relying on gut instinct which is basically instinctive responses from our ape-brain, very useful in some situations but not all).

If we moved away from the fixation on face coverings and unreliable testing (i.e. lateral flow tests or PCR with more than 25 cycles) and got back to proven disease diagnosis and tracking we'd find the pandemic was basically over as the thing that DOES work is the vaccine. No, it won't stop you catching the disease but it generally will stop you getting proper ill or dying from it.

TPO
 

LAX54

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At present, with 10s of people still dying a day and not all adults able to have been double vaccinated (including myself for another week and a bit), keeping a bit of cloth over my face that causes me no bother whatsoever doesn't seem unreasonable.
Whilst I have gone along with the mask rules from day 1, not that I thought they were much good, but it looked like they did, and the Gov had to be seen to be doing something quickly:) and have worn a mask since the 19th too, I am now wondering why on earth I have a stinking cold today ! By rights there should be no colds or flu around :)
 

Bantamzen

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Indeed. Acccording to HSE guidance on selection of RPE, a good filtering half-mask can reduce inhalation of (X substance/thing) by a maximum of a factor of about 40.

To do any better than that you you need to move up to a more complex system- for example a hood fed by air-line or from a belt-mounted filter pack. Which is why when providing RPE for use with carcinogens/things which cause occupational asthma where the legal duty is to not only reduce the level beyond the specified limit but also reduce it further so far as is reasonably practicable, we use air-fed systems. Most commonly see in use by persons spraying 2-pack cyanoacrylate paint (e.g. automotive respray).

Of course with a half-mask you also need a face-fit, plus be clean shaven, plus the RPE and seals need to be kept clean, filters changed as required and usually recommended no more than an hour at a time "in mask" due to the strain and discomfort of wearing a correctly fitted and effective half-mask.

That's basic stuff which any health and safety person who has worked much in fields with chemicals or dusts (silica, asbestos) should know about.

The scandal here IMO is not just the misrepresentation of face-coverings as anything other than a psychological tool of control, it's also that suitable RPE (by which I mean more comfortable airfed systems) was not introduced in healthcare settings when dealing with COVID patients. A decent air-fed hood (with a belt-filtration pack) is more comfortable, more effective at preventing inhalation of viruses and also protects the face fully, so would have been much better for at-risk NHS staff. Better one decent air-fed hood (some of which also have a face-draft to prevent overheating) than a multitude of layers of ineffectiveness.

Like the engineering professor who made the analogy that using face coverings to stop viruses is like trying to stop marbles with builders scaffold (or mosquitos with weld-mesh fence is another version I have heard), I wish medics would stick the things they understand (rather than relying on gut instinct which is basically instinctive responses from our ape-brain, very useful in some situations but not all).

If we moved away from the fixation on face coverings and unreliable testing (i.e. lateral flow tests or PCR with more than 25 cycles) and got back to proven disease diagnosis and tracking we'd find the pandemic was basically over as the thing that DOES work is the vaccine. No, it won't stop you catching the disease but it generally will stop you getting proper ill or dying from it.

TPO
Where's the like button when you need it?
 

nedchester

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My mental health is fine when I am not being restricted by authoritarians and I know many others who feel a similar way.
Comedy gold! There’s the authoritarian word again. You seem almost obsessed with it.
 

WelshBluebird

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My mental health is fine when I am not being restricted by authoritarians and I know many others who feel a similar way.
Wasn't the comment about mental health related to a poster who seems to have a problem with other people choosing to wear masks. Emphasis on "people choosing to wear masks". That doesn't sound like the poster has an issue specifically with just authoritarianism, it sounds like the poster has a problem with mask wearing in general even if people choose to wear them. Actually if anything demanding that people don't wear them sounds more authoritarian to me than people choosing to wear a mask if they want to!

Personally, I wouldn't want to make light of mental health issues given my history with both myself and close friends. However if people choosing to wear masks causes a person so much distress that they cannot sleep at night then maybe a trip to a therapist at least just to talk the issues through would be useful as it somewhat implies a more general anxiety or similar (not saying it is, nor am I saying simply disliking masks even to an extreme level means that, however literally being kept up at night by it does sound significantly beyond what you'd expect).
 
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nedchester

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Wasn't the comment about mental health related to a poster who seems to have a problem with other people choosing to wear masks. Emphasis on "people choosing to wear masks". That doesn't sound like the poster has an issue specifically with just authoritarianism, it sounds like the poster has a problem with mask wearing in general even if people choose to wear them. Actually if anything demanding that people don't wear them sounds more authoritarian to me than people choosing to wear a mask if they want to!

Personally, I wouldn't want to make light of mental health issues given my history with both myself and close friends. However if people choosing to wear masks causes a person so much distress that they cannot sleep at night then maybe a trip to a therapist at least just to talk the issues through would be useful as it somewhat implies a more general anxiety or similar (not saying it is, nor am I saying simply disliking masks even to an extreme level means that, however literally being kept up at night by it does sound significantly beyond what you'd expect).
Thank you for putting it better than I could.
 

yorkie

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Wasn't the comment about mental health related to a poster who seems to have a problem with other people choosing to wear masks. Emphasis on "people choosing to wear masks". That doesn't sound like the poster has an issue specifically with just authoritarianism, it sounds like the poster has a problem with mask wearing in general even if people choose to wear them. Actually if anything demanding that people don't wear them sounds more authoritarian to me than people choosing to wear a mask if they want to!
You can word it how you want but I think you fundamentally misunderstand this issue; for some people, the sight of people wearing masks is a reminder of the authoritarianism we experienced (and to some extent continue to experience)

If it had always been personal choice, I doubt this issue would have arose.


Personally, I wouldn't want to make light of mental health issues given my history with both myself and close friends. However if people choosing to wear masks causes a person so much distress that they cannot sleep at night then maybe a trip to a therapist at least just to talk the issues through would be useful as it somewhat implies a more general anxiety or similar (not saying it is, nor am I saying simply disliking masks even to an extreme level means that, however literally being kept up at night by it does sound significantly beyond what you'd expect).
Yes I agree that it would be good for them to talk to someone about this.

But for some people there is the constant fear of restrictions being reimposed and the constant reminder of the restrictions we were under, not helped by the actions of Sadiq Khan and others.
 

sjpowermac

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Comedy gold! There’s the authoritarian word again. You seem almost obsessed with it.
Anyone who didn’t run out into the street at 23:55 last Sunday and burn their mask is an authoritarian in my opinion;)

On a serious note, I always felt that masks in classrooms were a complete waste of time and quite definitely a case of being seen to do ‘something’.

Regarding seeing people in masks, it’s not something that I find natural, but it is something that I’ve got used to.

It must be awful for anyone who is seriously put off by seeing people in masks, they definitely have my sympathy and agree about seeking help.
 

Yew

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I thought wearing an FF3 mask - correct me if I’ve got the wrong one - conferred a x42 times advantage of not getting the virus compared to an ordinary mask.
That study has some serious issues with it's design, there was no randomisation, FF3's were on covid wards, surgical masks were on non covid wards. It's highly likely that what it actually found is that pre-existing infection acquired immunity was present in clinicians working on covid wards.
 

Bantamzen

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Anyone who didn’t run out into the street at 23:55 last Sunday and burn their mask is an authoritarian in my opinion;)

On a serious note, I always felt that masks in classrooms were a complete waste of time and quite definitely a case of being seen to do ‘something’.

Regarding seeing people in masks, it’s not something that I find natural, but it is something that I’ve got used to.

It must be awful for anyone who is seriously put off by seeing people in masks, they definitely have my sympathy and agree about seeking help.
Why should they have to seek help? Seriously, these are measures imposed on us by politicians in a vain attempt to "defeat the virus". So why the hell are we suggesting that people who find the use of masks difficult have a problem? Surely the problem is the masks, so why not deal with that? Its absolute insanity to tell people suffering as a result of government mandated measures that they have the problem.
 

The Ham

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That study has some serious issues with it's design, there was no randomisation, FF3's were on covid wards, surgical masks were on non covid wards. It's highly likely that what it actually found is that pre-existing infection acquired immunity was present in clinicians working on covid wards.

It's always going to be hard to create a perfect study, however on the Covid wards the cases were very much higher than in the general population and then when they introduced the improved masks the numbers reduced to similar to that in the community.

It might be that other factors came into play (such as immunity through having had the virus), however it is also unlikely that the marks had zero impact.
 

Yew

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It's always going to be hard to create a perfect study, however on the Covid wards the cases were very much higher than in the general population and then when they introduced the improved masks the numbers reduced to similar to that in the community.

It might be that other factors came into play (such as immunity through having had the virus), however it is also unlikely that the marks had zero impact.
The supposed difficulty of the study is irrelevant to the principle that the study is flawed, as they did not even attempt to randomise.
 

sjpowermac

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Why should they have to seek help? Seriously, these are measures imposed on us by politicians in a vain attempt to "defeat the virus". So why the hell are we suggesting that people who find the use of masks difficult have a problem? Surely the problem is the masks, so why not deal with that? Its absolute insanity to tell people suffering as a result of government mandated measures that they have the problem.
I was expressing sympathy with anyone who is affected by seeing masks, so why have a pop at me?

I think it’s unlikely that masks are going to be banned anytime soon, so what would your helpful suggestion be for anyone who has mental health difficulties as a result of seeing others in masks?

For the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t use the word ‘problem’, you made that up.
 
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nedchester

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I was expressing sympathy with anyone who is affected by seeing masks, so why have a pop at me?

I think it’s unlikely that masks are going to be banned anytime soon, so what would your helpful suggestion be for anyone who has mental health difficulties as a result of seeing others in masks?

For the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t use the word ‘problem’, you made that up.

Why would there ever be a “ban” on masks? If people wish to wear them so be it otherwise it would be authoritarian………..
 

Bantamzen

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I was expressing sympathy with anyone who is affected by seeing masks, so why have a pop at me?

I think it’s unlikely that masks are going to be banned anytime soon, so what would your helpful suggestion be for anyone who has mental health difficulties as a result of seeing others in masks?

For the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t use the word ‘problem’, you made that up.
I wasn't having a go at you just to clear things up. However I do believe that people who are struggling with a masked society should not be forced to seek help. These have up to now been mandated by government, and now its seen by many as "the right thing to do". Just yesterday my wife went shopping without one and she said quite a few people glared at her, something I find unacceptable. The government has convinced a large proportion of society that masks save them from the guilt of thinking they might kill someone, and let's face it that is pretty much all that they do.

What should be happening is for government(s) to be helping people get used to not having to wear these things, and reverse the messaging that they can "stay safe" & "protect others" by keep themselves masked up.
 

sjpowermac

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Why would there ever be a “ban” on masks? If people wish to wear them so be it otherwise it would be authoritarian………..
I completely agree!
I wasn't having a go at you just to clear things up. However I do believe that people who are struggling with a masked society should not be forced to seek help. These have up to now been mandated by government, and now its seen by many as "the right thing to do". Just yesterday my wife went shopping without one and she said quite a few people glared at her, something I find unacceptable. The government has convinced a large proportion of society that masks save them from the guilt of thinking they might kill someone, and let's face it that is pretty much all that they do.

What should be happening is for government(s) to be helping people get used to not having to wear these things, and reverse the messaging that they can "stay safe" & "protect others" by keep themselves masked up.
Thank you for clarifying.

The glaring, or worse, does go both ways. I was on a train out of Leeds a few weeks back and was peering out of the window to see the 91s on Neville Hill. I had the feeling someone was staring and so glanced back, only to be asked very rudely and aggressively ‘what are you looking at?’ I hadn’t previously noticed, but there was an anti-masker across the aisle. I’m not one for conflict (other than on forums:D) so I shrugged and went back to looking out of the window. More grumbling followed, so I got up and went to another coach.

I agree with you completely though that the government messaging needs to change. The current railway message about showing respect to others by wearing a mask is ridiculous.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Why should they have to seek help? Seriously, these are measures imposed on us by politicians in a vain attempt to "defeat the virus". So why the hell are we suggesting that people who find the use of masks difficult have a problem? Surely the problem is the masks, so why not deal with that? Its absolute insanity to tell people suffering as a result of government mandated measures that they have the problem.
I abhor this government but when did they ever set out to defeat the virus that was indie sage and various other zero covid evangelists seeking to influence the government. There primary goal was to ensure the NHS could treat the minority that couldn't fight it on there own so that need a policy response to manage the numbers getting infected. This was basically minimising contact through restricting our free movement (albeit there is a good evidence natural moderation was already occurring before that requirement was invoked by Boris on 23/3/20) and telling vulnerable to shield (actually a pretty good call imo but execution could have been better). Remember Jenny Harries told us masks were of no use on 12th March and actually her view at the time is they would do more harm than good, JVT then doubled down on that on 4th April

while the practice seemed "'wired into' some southeast Asian cultures, there was no evidence that general wearing of face masks by the public who are well, affects the spread of the disease in our society" He added: "In terms of the hard evidence and what the UK Government recommends, we do not recommend face masks for general wearing by the public."
Hancock (remember him) on 28th April
"On face masks, we are guided by the science and the UK Government position hasn’t changed, not least because the most important thing people can do is the social distancing… as opposed to the weak science on face masks, there is very clear science on social distancing.
Things begin to change when Boris comes back from sick leave at end of April and said
"What I think SAGE is saying, and what I certainly agree with, is that as part of coming out of the lockdown, I do think that face coverings will be useful both for epidemiological reasons but also for giving people confidence they can go back to work"
At this point getting back to normal was his priority and you can imagine SAGE being concerned about packed tubes again (if only) so and expressing concern about that but if they were going ahead with it then what else did they have left in the armoury but masks. Also im sure the behavioural people would have said let people wear masks they will feel safer and get back to work and get economy going. So from this point on it became weaved into govt policy and the brainwashing and conditioning of the public began resulting in this polarised situation we find ourselves in now.

This will take sometime to unwind, especially whilst Covid is headline news everyday, but as that drops back we will see the balance change and normality will be restored in the fullness of time. So we just need to be respectful of each other position and that's what govt and the media should be promoting as we navigate our way out of this.
 
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