There follows a guest post by Edward Chancellor, a financial journalist and the author of Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation (1998).
“Freedom Day” on 21st June was supposed to be the day when Covid restrictions on the people of England came to an end. Predictably the release from wearing facemasks, social distancing, etc., has been postponed in the face of the ‘Delta’ variant. One member of the government’s scientific advisory group, Susan Michie suggests that we should continue wearing masks “forever”.
Professor Michie must be aware that all the evidence points to the fact that face masks offer little or no protection against the spread of respiratory diseases. The behaviour of the political leaders at the recent G7 meeting in Cornwall – donning masks for photo-ops but later partying together without masks or social distancing – suggests they too understand that masks are unnecessary. Nevertheless, many people, vaccinated or otherwise at no personal risk from COVID-19, continue to wear masks. They do so for no reason other than they are following government orders or are simply imitating the behaviour of their peers.
In his notorious Daily Telegraph article of August 5th 2018, Boris Johnson argued that the burkha was “oppressive” and that it was “weird and bullying” to expect women to cover their faces. He claimed that “human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.” I agree with those sentiments. Nevertheless, until now I have gone along with the mask mandate in the misplaced hope that Boris would be true to his word and end the restrictions on June 21st.
It should now be clear that if we are to return to normality we must take back control of our destiny. The first and most obvious step is to stop wearing masks in public. In the “war on coronavirus” the mask-refuseniks can be seen not as reckless endangerers of other people’s lives but as conscientious objectors who set an example for the rest of the society to follow. We, the maskless, can show our fellow citizens that we refuse to live in fear and will not be ruled by arbitrary pseudo-scientific diktat. Boris cannot postpone Freedom Day if we have already ditched his oppressive, weird and bullying rules.