For some wearing a mask has become second nature. After well over a year of wearing them it seems normal to grab your mask and go. We have even stylized them into fashion accessories and statement pieces with coordinated themes and colors.
Now that the state has eased its restrictions including masking in certain situations, many Californians appear to still be wearing masks all the time. This begs the question, will masks become a permanent fixture in California and the Western society as a whole when the Covid-19 pandemic ends?
In the early days of COVID-19, the CDC said healthy people did not need to wear face masks. Then in April, the CDC issued a recommendation advising everyone to wear a cloth face mask or covering in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Several states gave advice to cover in enclosed spaces where social distancing was not always possible, and even the White House made it mandatory for all staff to wear face masks - though President Donald Trump at the time still refused to wear one.
California started requiring mask wearing inside businesses in June of 2020. Mask mandates were accepted by most but were also challenged aggressively by others. Anti-mask protests started popping up across the state. "Freedom Lovers" claimed that masks were a form of "control." And others were just not trusting of the conflicting information and guidance from the CDC. Other mask refusers were simply selfish and put their comfort over the safety of others.
Why Eastern Societies Have Worn Face Masks for Decades
In countries like Japan and China, facemask use in the community is the norm. People wear them to protect the respiratory tract from air pollutants, infection, and to prevent the spread of any pathogens they might be carrying.
Women sometimes wear them to disguise themselves when not wearing makeup or people in general when they may want to be a bit incognito. The custom reportedly began in Japan during the early years of the 20th century, when an influenza pandemic killed millions of people around the world. And ever since the 2002 SARS outbreak and the 2006 bird flu panic, mask wearing has become ingrained in Eastern culture.
Masks May Become The New Normal
As of June 15, 2021, Governor Newsom terminated the executive orders that put into place the Stay Home Order and the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Despite the easing of restrictions, everywhere you go you still see people wearing masks. Even some who have been fully vaccinated are not yet giving up mask wearing when they go out around other vaccinated individuals.
I’ve spoken to several who say until all is said and done and beyond, they are keeping masks on. Many point to the absence of flu-season last year, less allergies, and colds -which they attribute to the wearing of masks when in public. And to some, its just better safe than sorry.
Ultimately, unless mandated, wearing a mask after the pandemic will be a personal choice. California will likely see mask wearing decline as the majority become vaccinated and immunity increases. Likewise, many may choose to hold onto their masks even after the pandemic ends.
Current Guidance in California
- Wear a mask if you’re unvaccinated, especially in crowded, indoor spaces
- Wash your hands and sanitize surfaces
- Follow safety rules for mega-events
- Get tested if you’re sick
- Wear a mask while on public transit, even if you’re vaccinated
- Honor mask and distancing rules in place at a private business
- Get tested if required by your workplace
- Wear a mask when you travel
Do you think we should keep wearing masks after the pandemic? Are you keeping yours on?