James Explains The Mask Situation In The UK

raphael-ninja-turtle-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles
Although Raphael is wearing a mask, it is the wrong kind of mask. However Raphael is a mutant turtle and consequently may not be affected by coronavirus.

It is officially mandatory to wear face-masks in some places in the UK as of today. It was already mandatory to wear them on public transport but previously it was not necessary to wear them in shops. According to ‘man of the people’ Michael Gove, it was basic good manners to wear them in shops, but there was no need to make it obligatory. Michael Gove did not, however, deem it good manners to wear a mask in Pret-A-Manger, which is now also mandatory, unless you’re eating in, in which case it isn’t mandatory, presumably because the mask might get in the way of the actual eating. But if you’re taking your food away, as Mr Gove was, then you will have to wear a mask. But not because it’s good manners, because it definitely isn’t good manners to wear a mask in Pret-A-Manger. But it is now the law or something. I mean I don’t think the law, if it is a law, actually specifies Pret-A-Manger. Unless Matt Hancock has shares in Pret-A-Manger. Then it probably is mentioned by name. But other sandwich shops are available. And some of them might even be better. Given that most of the Government seem to have been pictured in Pret-A-Manger this week, all wearing a mask, including, belatedly, Mr Gove, who has clearly been told to get ‘on message’, then I’d be considering venturing into another sandwich shop just to avoid them. Or making my own packed lunch. Which seems eminently more sensible in these corona-times.

Anyway, the point is that today there are new rules on the wearing of masks, which previously weren’t rules.

Fortunately the Government has published some guidelines on the new rules and they did it a whole twelve hours before the new rules came into effect, so there’s no excuse for getting this wrong. The guidance is only 2,752 words long, and frankly I’ve written blog posts about Star Wars that are longer than that. So if you had time to read any of  my 31 posts about Star Wars that I wrote in May then you definitely have time to read the Government’s advice about wearing masks.

Then again, even by the relatively humble standards of this blog, my Star Wars posts were not, on the whole, particularly popular . And they were definitely more entertaining than the Government guidance on wearing masks. So there is a chance that people won’t read that either.

But there does seem to be some confusion over the whole mask situation, so maybe I should help to answer some of the more frequently asked questions. Or FAQs, as I like to call them (I should probably trademark that).

I don’t know what the FAQs are surrounding the wearing of face-masks, so I’ve had to make some up. Much like Boris Johnson does with facts.

So without further ado, here are some possible FAQs regarding the wearing of face-masks and also some answers.

Question 1

Why is it only the law today, when coronavirus has been around for ages, supermarkets have always been open and other shops opened up weeks ago?

Essentially, before today masks were definitely ineffective against Covid 19, and the science definitely proved that and even though countries where people habitually wear masks have had much lower rates of infection, there was absolutely no proof that this was because of the mask-wearing. It could just have been luck. But a few weeks ago in the UK we beat coronavirus, because of our bulldog spirit. We sent it packing good and proper, never to be seen again. But some people keep saying that it’s actually still here and even though it definitely isn’t, we decided to close Leicester for a bit, just to shut up the moaners. But they kept moaning so we decided that if everyone wore masks then we wouldn’t be able to see their stupid moaning faces any more. And today just seemed as good a day as any other really.

 

Question 2

What is acceptable to wear as a face-covering?

Anything you like really. Have a bit of fun with it if you want. Think of it as one big fancy dress party. But you can’t dress up as Batman because his mask covers the wrong bit of his face. Batman’s nemesis Bane would be fine but he’s a baddie. If you want to be a hero then Spiderman would be a good option. Personally I’m going to dress as Darth Vader. But that’s because I already do that most of the time anyway and the costume has a built in ventilator so there’s a bit of long term planning with my decision.

Question 3

Seriously though, do I have to actually wear a face covering, or it it a bit like all the other rules and completely unenforceable?

The law very clearly states that you do have to wear a face covering unless (and I’m quoting the actual Government guidance here) “putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress”. ‘Severe distress’ is quite hard to quantify so, in actual fact, you really don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to. Also the police have repeatedly said they won’t be able to enforce this so it really all comes back to Govian “good manners”. 

Also you can print off your own exemption certificate or just write yourself a note, like you used to do when you didn’t want to do PE lessons. Only this time you won’t have to forge your mum’s signature, because it is apparently easier to get out of wearing a mask during a pandemic than it was to get out of cross-country in secondary school.

 

Question 4

What will happen to me if I don’t wear a mask?

As most people probably will comply then you’ll likely get lots of disapproving looks. But there are no other consequences.

At all.

Right, I hope that’s cleared things up.

Now get out there and start spending your money!