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

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The Ham

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I think you are perhaps misunderstanding the point I was making

I understood the point, I was just highlighting that it's easy enough to find any point being made from any angle on Twitter, and the existence of such tweets doesn't mean that those views are widespread.

Most people who were accepting of mask wearing are very much if the view that they are at best of limited value and now that the vaccine is doing what it was designed to do, and generally (although there's pockets of less than 50%, sometimes circa 33%) vaccine uptake had been high there's less and less need to have them. As any potential benefit (which assuming at best would have been small, with the exception of the higher grade masks) is now almost zero.

To put into perspective the impact of the vaccine, we are currently seeing cases around the 0.5% of population mark, yet seeing deaths at the rate early September 2020 when cases were about 0.03% of the population.

In comparison Flu kills about 50,000 per year (and even in the last week that we've got data for, the 5 year average is about 400/week vs 220/week for Covid, whilst in 2020 Flu contributed about 1/2 deaths of the 5 year average), and whilst more than that have died with Covid since the start of this year, about 37,000 died in January (basically before a very small percentage had even had chance to have had the vaccine); therefore cances are total Flu/Covid deaths April 2021 to March 2022 are likely to comparable to previous flu deaths for previous years.

It's also worth noting that given the fairly low levels of flu this year (due to better hand washing and the limitation of interactions and international travel) many of those would have died from flu in normal circumstances anyway.

Part of the reason why this may happen is the measures that have been secondary such as the significant reduction in cash transactions (and some are starting to question is it the handling of cash that is what causes more international travelers to have "food" poisoning than poor food preparation due to the levels of bacteria and viruses found on them) and a likely higher uptake of flu vaccine this year (all school children will be offered it, compared to last year when only those in year 7 or below) as well as other things (such as much better hand washing and people still working but doing so from home when they are a little unwell rather than spreading it around on the train and at work).

If that's the case then masks would most definitely be well and truly pointless, with the exception of in high risk settings (generally care/medical settings where flu/Covid is known to exist) where higher grade masks are then used.

Although I wouldn't be surprised if people still called for their use and said that any such reduction was down to masks rather than any of the other measures (even though better hand washing has very clear scientific evidence of its benefits).
 
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DerekC

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That doesn't sound like your problem at all. It sounds very convenient for you. Well done on not having had your year ruined. Did you have anything to add to the discussion at hand?
Only that it seems pretty pointless. A lot of people setting themselves up as experts and making statements, most of them unsupported by evidence, that are unlikely to convince anyone on the other side. You have no idea whether my year has been ruined or not - that depends on a lot of things much more important than whether or not I have to wear a mask. I guess I am trying to understand why some people have such a huge hang-up about it. Most of the people I meet seem to feel like me - that wearing a mask isn't very nice, but it's a small thing in the overall Covid context.
 

yorkie

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I understood the point, I was just highlighting that it's easy enough to find any point being made from any angle on Twitter, and the existence of such tweets doesn't mean that those views are widespread.
I don't know exactly what you mean by widespread, but I think it's reasonable to point out that, while the people I quoted do indeed are in the minority, they are an extremely vocal minority and they do get listened to by some ordinary people; Trisha Greenhalgh (and her ilk) are often quoted by the mainstream media!

My point is that such people are able to unduly influence decisions and the effects on our lives; since 19th July their influence has been greatly reduced, but they are shouting very loudly about how unhappy they are with the current situation, despite the vaccines doing a great job.

The people you quote are also crazy but none of the people you quoted have anything to do with events in the UK directly, and they are all so crazy that almost no sane person is going to take any notice of them. It was a ramshackle of bizarre tweets that doesn't really prove or disprove anything, although we are in agreement that there are extremists who are shouting loudly who should be ignored.

Most people who were accepting of mask wearing are very much if the view that they are at best of limited value and now that the vaccine is doing what it was designed to do, and generally (although there's pockets of less than 50%, sometimes circa 33%) vaccine uptake had been high there's less and less need to have them. As any potential benefit (which assuming at best would have been small, with the exception of the higher grade masks) is now almost zero.
I agree.

To put into perspective the impact of the vaccine, we are currently seeing cases around the 0.5% of population mark, yet seeing deaths at the rate early September 2020 when cases were about 0.03% of the population.
Yes; there is a lot of confusion about the role of vaccines, which is to protect against serious illness, rather than prevent infections entirely, and they are doing a great job. This does indeed render face masks - even if they were effective, which I dispute - redundant.

In comparison Flu kills about 50,000 per year (and even in the last week that we've got data for, the 5 year average is about 400/week vs 220/week for Covid, whilst in 2020 Flu contributed about 1/2 deaths of the 5 year average), and whilst more than that have died with Covid since the start of this year, about 37,000 died in January (basically before a very small percentage had even had chance to have had the vaccine); therefore cances are total Flu/Covid deaths April 2021 to March 2022 are likely to comparable to previous flu deaths for previous years.

It's also worth noting that given the fairly low levels of flu this year (due to better hand washing and the limitation of interactions and international travel) many of those would have died from flu in normal circumstances anyway.
I agree. That said, the reasons for low levels of flu are very complex and not fully understood (but not for this thread ;)) but the point remains.

Part of the reason why this may happen is the measures that have been secondary such as the significant reduction in cash transactions (and some are starting to question is it the handling of cash that is what causes more international travelers to have "food" poisoning than poor food preparation due to the levels of bacteria and viruses found on them) and a likely higher uptake of flu vaccine this year (all school children will be offered it, compared to last year when only those in year 7 or below) as well as other things (such as much better hand washing and people still working but doing so from home when they are a little unwell rather than spreading it around on the train and at work).

If that's the case then masks would most definitely be well and truly pointless, with the exception of in high risk settings (generally care/medical settings where flu/Covid is known to exist) where higher grade masks are then used.

Although I wouldn't be surprised if people still called for their use and said that any such reduction was down to masks rather than any of the other measures (even though better hand washing has very clear scientific evidence of its benefits).
Yes masks are pointless and yes the mask obsessives (who appear to have effectively formed their own cult) will continue to call for their use. The mainstream media really should just blank Trisha Greenhalgh; she really is an irrelevance now.

Only that it seems pretty pointless. A lot of people setting themselves up as experts and making statements, most of them unsupported by evidence, that are unlikely to convince anyone on the other side. You have no idea whether my year has been ruined or not - that depends on a lot of things much more important than whether or not I have to wear a mask. I guess I am trying to understand why some people have such a huge hang-up about it. Most of the people I meet seem to feel like me - that wearing a mask isn't very nice, but it's a small thing in the overall Covid context.
Your case for masks is that they are a "small thing"; is that it? That seems a pretty weak case to me.

Are you saying that wearing them should be mandated, or personal choice?
 

LAX54

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If a mask is going to stop spit etc going into an open wound then it's also going to stop spit going into someone else's face whilst talking to them or standing near them...
But that is not how the virus is generally spread, One of the many Scientists popped up on Euronews of F24 two weeks ago, maybe three, who questioned the use of most everyday masks, stating that in excess of 120,000 medical staff that had work the disposable type had died of Covid, and he questioned their continued use. citing the gaps all around the sides, at least the visors have mostly been binned now as useless ! the rule for mask wearing and distancing has always been less than 1 metre for more than 15 mins (not Government rules)
At first they did give the impression of security, but as time moved on, and vaccinations raced ahead, their 'usefulness' diminished.
Now we have got to the part where many are now scared to go out the front door without a mask, and even wear them on their own in a car !
 

takno

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Only that it seems pretty pointless. A lot of people setting themselves up as experts and making statements, most of them unsupported by evidence, that are unlikely to convince anyone on the other side. You have no idea whether my year has been ruined or not - that depends on a lot of things much more important than whether or not I have to wear a mask. I guess I am trying to understand why some people have such a huge hang-up about it. Most of the people I meet seem to feel like me - that wearing a mask isn't very nice, but it's a small thing in the overall Covid context.
So it's a small thing for you and some other people you talk to, and a much bigger thing for some of the rest of us. I think what you need to understand is that people are different, and what feels like a small thing to you doesn't feel like a small thing to others.

For me the masks have been the most limiting single aspect of the whole Covid situation. Nothing about it feels to me like a small price. If the argument is "we don't have any evidence that these help, and indeed there's a growing body of evidence that they don't, but hey-ho they're really not that much trouble", then it falls down because for plenty of people they are that much trouble
 

WelshBluebird

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For me the masks have been the most limiting single aspect of the whole Covid situation.
You think that masks are more limiting than places being fully shut and not being able to see friends or family? Interesting to say the least.
 

takno

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You think that masks are more limiting than places being fully shut and not being able to see friends or family? Interesting to say the least.
I was thinking more of the restrictions over the last couple of months, and the fact that the facemasks have been around continuously for over a year (and show no signs of abating in Scotland).

In terms of the lockdowns themselves, this year's was made much worse than last year's because it wasn't even possible to go and see a friendly face at the supermarket
 

greyman42

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Most of the people I meet seem to feel like me - that wearing a mask isn't very nice, but it's a small thing in the overall Covid context.
Are you saying that wearing a mask is of some benefit?
 

Richard Scott

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You think that masks are more limiting than places being fully shut and not being able to see friends or family? Interesting to say the least.
Why would wearing a mask allow us to do these things? If they are our saviour then we should have opened up fully last July and stayed that way?
 

The Ham

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Why would wearing a mask allow us to do these things? If they are our saviour then we should have opened up fully last July and stayed that way?

The evidence for most masks was only ever (at best) a few percent reduction.
 

yorkie

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But that is not how the virus is generally spread, One of the many Scientists popped up on Euronews of F24 two weeks ago, maybe three, who questioned the use of most everyday masks, stating that in excess of 120,000 medical staff that had work the disposable type had died of Covid, and he questioned their continued use...
He is absolutely spot on. See the study I linked to earlier; standard surgical masks have been shown to be ineffective.

You think that masks are more limiting than places being fully shut and not being able to see friends or family? Interesting to say the least.
This is a false dichotomy.

Why would wearing a mask allow us to do these things? If they are our saviour then we should have opened up fully last July and stayed that way?
Indeed; they are not. Though it is true that some people think that wearing a mask means you can get closer to people; I had this at work a lot. People would be at the entrance to my office and then say something like "I'll put on a mask so I can get closer" and then sit right next to me. Absolutely fine by me, it didn't bother me one bit, but for sure people do act differently when wearing a mask and do get closer. I also noticed people in supermarkets being much less likely to keep distance once masks became mandatory.

The idea that masks replace any other measures is a complete and utter fallacy, but it is true that the mandating of masks results in people dropping their guard and getting closer to others than they might otherwise have done, due to a false believe that standard masks are effective.

The evidence for most masks was only ever (at best) a few percent reduction.
Indeed and it's so small no-one has ever been able to measure it! When looking at graphs showing case numbers along with mask mandate dates for many locations across the world, there is no sign of a decrease in cases due to mandates being imposed, nor is there any sign of increases when mandates are lifted. Indeed if anything, the graphs show the opposite (not that I think there is causation there).
 
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WelshBluebird

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This is a false dichotomy
How exactly?
The claim was that masks are are limiting out of all the restrictions we've had. That clearly isn't true because things being closed and the other restrictions we had are more limiting.
Note the claim wasn't about the effectiveness of masks, it was simply about how limiting or not being asked to wear one is on a person's day to day life.
The evidence for most masks was only ever (at best) a few percent reduction.
My comment had nothing to do with effectiveness. I really can't be bothered to get into that discussion at 10pm. My comment was solely about the impact of masks on our day to day lives. To claim they limit our lives more than lockdowns etc is utterly nuts.

Why would wearing a mask allow us to do these things? If they are our saviour then we should have opened up fully last July and stayed that way?
I never said it does. Read the post.

I was thinking more of the restrictions over the last couple of months, and the fact that the facemasks have been around continuously for over a year (and show no signs of abating in Scotland).

In terms of the lockdowns themselves, this year's was made much worse than last year's because it wasn't even possible to go and see a friendly face at the supermarket
In fairness you said the whole covid situation which includes lockdowns etc.
Clearly wearing a mask impacts us less than a lockdown. I really don't see how you can claim it impacts us more.
 
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yorkie

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How exactly?
It depends; it sounded like you were suggesting that masks avoid the need for places to be shut, or that places would have been shut if masks had not been worn. If you were not saying that then fair enough...
The claim was that masks are are limiting out of all the restrictions we've had. That clearly isn't true because things being closed and the other restrictions we had are more limiting.
I don't want to get into what someone else was or wasn't saying but for me, the mask mandate was the most limiting factor in the 4 weeks prior to 19 July, and is the most limiting factor in Wales/Scotland right now.
Note the claim wasn't about the effectiveness of masks, it was simply about how limiting or not being asked to wear one is on a person's day to day life.
It very much depends on the individual. Also some individuals can be very affected by whether others wear masks, such as people who are hard of hearing.
My comment had nothing to do with effectiveness. I really can't be bothered to geg unto that discussion at 10pm. My comment was solely about the impact of masks on our day to day lives. To claim they limit our lives more than lockdowns etc is utterly nuts.
You are not compelled to reply at any particular time; the discussion will still be there tomorrow. And I do not think anyone was claiming that; it is your interpretation of what they were saying. Just as @Richard Scott and I thought you were claiming masks could replace other measures.

Misinterpretations happen (less so when in person and with neither party wearing masks! ;))
 

takno

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How exactly?
The claim was that masks are are limiting out of all the restrictions we've had. That clearly isn't true because things being closed and the other restrictions we had are more limiting.
Note the claim wasn't about the effectiveness of masks, it was simply about how limiting or not being asked to wear one is on a person's day to day life.

My comment had nothing to do with effectiveness. I really can't be bothered to geg unto that discussion at 10pm. My comment was solely about the impact of masks on our day to day lives. To claim they limit our lives more than lockdowns etc is utterly nuts.


I never said it does. Read the post.


In fairness you said the whole covid situation which includes lockdowns etc.
Clearly wearing a mask impacts us less than a lockdown. I really don't see how you can claim it impacts us more.
The claim was about how masks affected me. I fully understand that other people feel differently about them.

If you don't find them any trouble to wear then it's unlikely that they had more impact on you. For me it's masks that have kept me out of supermarkets, and minimising travel. For that matter it's masks that have stopped me getting on a plane and going somewhere else - several hours of mask wearing is entirely out of the question, whereas isolation at home wouldn't have been greatly different from my normal life over the period.

This whole argument has troubling similarities to arguments 40 years about sexuality. Lots of people not seeing why anybody should worry about it being illegal to have homosexual sex because they can't see why people can't just be normal, and thinking it all sounds terribly unhygienic.

in essence, if masks were effective there might have been an argument for having them for a time-limited period. Their use as a psychological comfort blanket for over a year though is too damaging to some people to ever justify in the kind of decent liberal democracy we purport to be.
 

VauxhallandI

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For me the mask wearing mandate has been very much at the top of the list of things I’ve disliked the most about this whole sorry affair.
 

yorkie

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Masks have not been such a huge deal for me personally, however I have seen how the mandate has affected others, including people with anxieties, medical conditions, hidden disabilities etc.

The mandating of masks grates me partly because of the lack of consideration for such people, but also partly because of how ineffective such mandates are, and the way people who are pro-mask mandates (or even pro-encouragement) tend to go on about how it is "for the benefit of everyone" or "the right thing to do" and other such nonsense; it's like they are trying to wind us up!

Masks have become the most visible symbol of authoritarianism and we are seeing now that people are keen to take their masks off, but are reluctant to do so if they are not in the majority; therefore for me, seeing lots of people wearing masks is a reminder of the authoritarianism we lived under and a willingness of those people wearing them to comply with it.

I'd have much more understanding if I saw someone wearing an FFP2/3 mask as this would indicate the person concerned might have a reason why they want additional protection and they will be reassured that they are getting it, so won't be judging others or fussing over what others are or aren't wearing. But when I see someone wearing an ineffective flimsy mask, it just makes me think that person feels compelled to go along with this nonsense.

I'd like those who think that standard flimsy masks are effective to explain why cases went up shortly after mask wearing requirements were tightened, yet went down once mask wearing reduced?
 

DorkingMain

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Wearing a mask was fine for a brief journey or to go into a shop, but wearing them for long distances, or at work (9 hour shift + an hour's travel each way) quickly became thoroughly unpleasant. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to continue wearing one (do what you feel is the right thing) but I'm personally glad to be free of them, and I'm somewhat resentful TfL are still insisting on them.
 

The Ham

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Wearing a mask was fine for a brief journey or to go into a shop, but wearing them for long distances, or at work (9 hour shift + an hour's travel each way) quickly became thoroughly unpleasant. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to continue wearing one (do what you feel is the right thing) but I'm personally glad to be free of them, and I'm somewhat resentful TfL are still insisting on them.

Indeed, and given that duration is a major factor in if you catch Covid, and even those studies which indicate that there may be limited benefits in mask wearing suggest changing masks frequently, the difference in risk beyond an hour in or out of a mask is likely to be small at best.

Pre vaccine in a shop for 20 minutes was probably worth trying; with people you work with/travel with for hours at a time so that there's not going to be (basically) any difference in risk - no point.

Now that most people have the vaccine the difference it makes means that masks make no sense (even in the supermarket setting).

Whilst I'll still wear a mask when required (as for me that fairly rarely within a week and then very time limited) I would probably think more about not doing so if I had to wear it more frequently.
 

LAX54

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Wearing a mask was fine for a brief journey or to go into a shop, but wearing them for long distances, or at work (9 hour shift + an hour's travel each way) quickly became thoroughly unpleasant. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to continue wearing one (do what you feel is the right thing) but I'm personally glad to be free of them, and I'm somewhat resentful TfL are still insisting on them.
You can see why Medical / Hospital Staff etc only wear them for a short while at a time !

Indeed, and given that duration is a major factor in if you catch Covid, and even those studies which indicate that there may be limited benefits in mask wearing suggest changing masks frequently, the difference in risk beyond an hour in or out of a mask is likely to be small at best.

Pre vaccine in a shop for 20 minutes was probably worth trying; with people you work with/travel with for hours at a time so that there's not going to be (basically) any difference in risk - no point.

Now that most people have the vaccine the difference it makes means that masks make no sense (even in the supermarket setting).

Whilst I'll still wear a mask when required (as for me that fairly rarely within a week and then very time limited) I would probably think more about not doing so if I had to wear it more frequently.
The virus rule has not changed of course since day 1, 'Less than 1 (one) metre for more than 15 mins'.
(Our Tesco Extra still has one way in, one way out in force)
 

AlterEgo

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What a tremendous surprise to find today that cases continue to fall in every English region despite no mask mandate.
 

yorkie

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Shops around Lancaster and Morecambe that I have been in in the last couple of weeks, in some it has been everybody.
Shops & public transport tend to be different to other places, such as pubs, restaurants, leisure centres etc.

It was down to very roughly half (maybe a little more than that, but certainly no more than 60%) when I went to Morrisons today, but I feel that the current situation in certain settings (some supermarkets & public transport operators are particicularly bad at this) is that numbers are artificially high because of inappropriate pressuring being placed on people (e.g. message such as "please consider others...") and many people are only willing to go without a mask if they have the confidence of knowing they won't stand out from the crowd. This means that in some venues, where there is a very high proportion of people wearing face coverings, it's difficult to change the status quo. Whereas at other venues, where a critical mass has been achieved, people feel much more confident, and mask wearing slips away and becomes the exception rather than the norm.

Normality cannot be suppressed indefinitely; it's a matter of when, not if.

But going to back to the original point; I do not see how your reply in any way negates this:
What a tremendous surprise to find today that cases continue to fall in every English region despite no mask mandate.
This point stands firm because, despite high levels of mask wearing in some shops and on some public transport, the reality is that in many settings masks are no longer being worn, and yet infection levels continue to drop.

We have seen infection levels rise in many countries (not just the UK) after mask mandates were brought in, and we have seen infection levels fall in many countries (again not just the UK) after mask mandates were removed. I'm not suggesting that increased mask wearing results in an increase in infections (though I have seen plenty of evidence that people were less likely to social distance when wearing a mask); I just think that this demonstrates how mask mandates, and mass mask wearing make no difference.

If wearing standard flimsy loose-fitting masks was effective, why did a recent study indicate that these were ineffective when compared to effective FFP3 masks? And why did we not see a drop in infections once masks were mandated, and why did we not see an increase in infections when masks were no longer mandated?

Masks only became mandated once we started opening up after lockdown, and it is very obvious this was designed as a placebo for people who were reluctant to go out again, and the mask wearing part of "1m+" social distancing was really just a way of persuading people that it was okay to be within 2m of another person. Unfortunately this was done without a long term plan, without consideration of how we would undo this culture of fear, and without any regard whatsoever for people with medical conditions, anxieties and hidden disabilities that either make them exempt from wearing a mask or make life difficult for them when others are wearing masks.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Shops & public transport tend to be different to other places, such as pubs, restaurants, leisure centres etc.

It was down to very roughly half (maybe a little more than that, but certainly no more than 60%) when I went to Morrisons today, but I feel that the current situation in certain settings (some supermarkets & public transport operators are particicularly bad at this) is that numbers are artificially high because of inappropriate pressuring being placed on people (e.g. message such as "please consider others...") and many people are only willing to go without a mask if they have the confidence of knowing they won't stand out from the crowd. This means that in some venues, where there is a very high proportion of people wearing face coverings, it's difficult to change the status quo. Whereas at other venues, where a critical mass has been achieved, people feel much more confident, and mask wearing slips away and becomes the exception rather than the norm.

Normality cannot be suppressed indefinitely; it's a matter of when, not if.

But going to back to the original point; I do not see how your reply in any way negates this:

This point stands firm because, despite high levels of mask wearing in some shops and on some public transport, the reality is that in many settings masks are no longer being worn, and yet infection levels continue to drop.

We have seen infection levels rise in many countries (not just the UK) after mask mandates were brought in, and we have seen infection levels fall in many countries (again not just the UK) after mask mandates were removed. I'm not suggesting that increased mask wearing results in an increase in infections (though I have seen plenty of evidence that people were less likely to social distance when wearing a mask); I just think that this demonstrates how mask mandates, and mass mask wearing make no difference.

If wearing standard flimsy loose-fitting masks was effective, why did a recent study indicate that these were ineffective when compared to effective FFP3 masks? And why did we not see a drop in infections once masks were mandated, and why did we not see an increase in infections when masks were no longer mandated?

Masks only became mandated once we started opening up after lockdown, and it is very obvious this was designed as a placebo for people who were reluctant to go out again, and the mask wearing part of "1m+" social distancing was really just a way of persuading people that it was okay to be within 2m of another person. Unfortunately this was done without a long term plan, without consideration of how we would undo this culture of fear, and without any regard whatsoever for people with medical conditions, anxieties and hidden disabilities that either make them exempt from wearing a mask or make life difficult for them when others are wearing masks.
People generally follow the trend so slowly slowly mask wearing will begin to decline and accelerate as people gain confidence and then won't want to stand out as being the only one thats wearing one. Just need to give it a few weeks.

As ive previously stated above there was an about turn on masks which maybe was an attempt to try and make people feel confident to venture out and keep the economy moving through masks but im not convinced as the mandates were put in place well before all restrictions were lifted. To the uninitiated having been told the virus is airborne it would be reasonable that a mask must provide some level of protection. I for one still advocate that it will trap some (<50%) of what you exhale which is what you want to do by controlling the source although as to providing protection from inhalation its negligible. Govt should have done more to research this effectively and promote use of N95/FFP3 masks for more vulnerable people or those in high risk settings as well as those who needed something to give them more confidence.

Anyhow next few weeks will prove one way or another whether we have reached an equilibrium position that the NHS can manage without detriment to other services. My own take is its looking positive with hospitalisations looking like they are peaking as expected 10-14 days behind the case peak at just under 5% of English bed capacity.
 

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I still can’t get why some people are wearing masks with their nose out and their mouth in. Surely they should know it isn’t right, whether you think they work or not.
 

Class320

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I still can’t get why some people are wearing masks with their nose out and their mouth in. Surely they should know it isn’t right, whether you think they work or not.

Perhaps they find it more difficult to breath with it covering both their nose and mouth so opt to just cover their mouth so they can get a bit more fresh air?
 

johnnychips

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I agree with both the last two posts - people think they are doing their bit, though its not effective.
 

Green tractor

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Lancaster
Shops & public transport tend to be different to other places, such as pubs, restaurants, leisure centres etc.

It was down to very roughly half (maybe a little more than that, but certainly no more than 60%) when I went to Morrisons today, but I feel that the current situation in certain settings (some supermarkets & public transport operators are particicularly bad at this) is that numbers are artificially high because of inappropriate pressuring being placed on people (e.g. message such as "please consider others...") and many people are only willing to go without a mask if they have the confidence of knowing they won't stand out from the crowd. This means that in some venues, where there is a very high proportion of people wearing face coverings, it's difficult to change the status quo. Whereas at other venues, where a critical mass has been achieved, people feel much more confident, and mask wearing slips away and becomes the exception rather than the norm.

Normality cannot be suppressed indefinitely; it's a matter of when, not if.

But going to back to the original point; I do not see how your reply in any way negates this:

This point stands firm because, despite high levels of mask wearing in some shops and on some public transport, the reality is that in many settings masks are no longer being worn, and yet infection levels continue to drop.

We have seen infection levels rise in many countries (not just the UK) after mask mandates were brought in, and we have seen infection levels fall in many countries (again not just the UK) after mask mandates were removed. I'm not suggesting that increased mask wearing results in an increase in infections (though I have seen plenty of evidence that people were less likely to social distance when wearing a mask); I just think that this demonstrates how mask mandates, and mass mask wearing make no difference.

If wearing standard flimsy loose-fitting masks was effective, why did a recent study indicate that these were ineffective when compared to effective FFP3 masks? And why did we not see a drop in infections once masks were mandated, and why did we not see an increase in infections when masks were no longer mandated?

Masks only became mandated once we started opening up after lockdown, and it is very obvious this was designed as a placebo for people who were reluctant to go out again, and the mask wearing part of "1m+" social distancing was really just a way of persuading people that it was okay to be within 2m of another person. Unfortunately this was done without a long term plan, without consideration of how we would undo this culture of fear, and without any regard whatsoever for people with medical conditions, anxieties and hidden disabilities that either make them exempt from wearing a mask or make life difficult for them when others are wearing masks.

You really cant accept the reality can you. Most people are still wearing masks and they are doing it to protect other people not themselvs.

Ffp 3 masks protect the wearer however they have a valve in which means the air leaves at a higher pressure and therefore travels further meaning if you are asymptomatic you are more likely to infect those around you. They also drip moisture from the valve. They are quite tiring to wear for long periods as they make breathing slightly more difficult. I'm a welder, I wear them at work
 
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