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 Face mask wearing

From Ms. P. Finch

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Observations on face mask wearing

I have just had a outdoor meeting with 8 people (some had travelled far &  work on construction sites / high risk areas) where we had to break the 2 metre rule at certain points due to a constricted site area. 

I was the only person wearing a mask. 

Even with it on, people could hear what I was saying.

According to studies wearing a mask protects other people more than the wearer, so this courtesy was not observed – maybe I should have said something.

Another example

I recently returned from a cross country journey ( family reasons ). 
The local taxis guy didn't wear a mask – I ended up giving him a clean one that I had.

I wore one and opened the window. Taxis drivers are known to be particularly vulnerable, even more so if South Asian, as he was.

Increase in cases

As the cases are rising in Calderdale significantly surely we all have to be more careful. 

In my social circle I  have  a whole mix of responses to wearing or not wearing masks. 

It is really not such a hardship that people make out & any embarrassment can soon be overcome.

It will save lives!!!!!!

From Sara W

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Please be aware that some disability groups are exempt from wearing face masks, so if you see someone shopping or on public transport without a mask please do not respond with aggression/verbal abuse.

Some of us may not look like we have disabilities that would exempt us, so please don't automatically be judgemental in these situations.

Also no-one is required to discuss their disability or other exemption with strangers, so if someone says they're in an exempt group please take their word for it.

To be honest, although I am actually exempt from face mask wearing I am still too afraid to go shopping or use public transport, because I fear people's reactions and being unable to cope with it.

This is just to point out that it is not OK to target abuse or comments at people not wearing masks who may be more vulnerable than you realise.

From Ms. P. Finch

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Thanks Sara, glad to be told that.

Wearing a sunflower lanyard/hidden disabilities may be something some people feel comfortable with?

I agree it is demeaning to have to give reasons. 

Sadly some people will expolit that of course, to get out of wearing masks.

Hidden Disabilities Stores

From Susan Quick

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Those of us who are disabled are exampt from wearing faces masks, however I did buy one and wear it when I went to the Co-op. It was very stressful and I nearly suffocated, however when I took the mask off to breathe  why did a cashier harrass me. She wasn't wearing a mask I have since got a certificate which says I am exempt but I'm very worried about going to the Co-op again.  I would be grateful if the management would tell the staff that those of us who are disabled are not required to wear a mask.  

From Graham Barker

Friday, 31 July 2020

A simple solution if you can't wear a face mask is a face shield or visor. Breathing isn't impeded and they're a better physical barrier than a mask. 

Importantly, they demonstrate to others that you're complying with face covering requirements. You can't blame people for being unable to tell whether someone not wearing a mask is exempted or can't be bot hered.

From Sara W

Friday, 31 July 2020

Graham, for some disability groups a visor type shield is also problematic.

There are various reasons some disability groups are exempt, breathing difficulties being only one.  Some are exempt for reasons of tactile hypersensitivity or poor sensory integration, for example, and may not find a visor any more possible than a mask.

Please, just be considerate. If someone is exempt then they legally are exempt, and they shouldn't be made to feel bad or inconsiderate about it.  Exempt groups are exempt for good reasons, even if an individual doesn't want to tell you what their personal disability reasons are.

I have managed to wear a visor a couple of times, but it interferes too much with my ability to function in public to be practical enough of the time to be able to get my own shopping and get back home on public transport.

Disabilities are many and varied; we just Do Not Know what other people are dealing with at any given time.

From Sara W

Friday, 31 July 2020

Government guidance on face mask wearing.

Scroll down for exemptions, as quoted below:

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
    to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
  • in order to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

From Graham Barker

Friday, 31 July 2020

Sara - I half expected a response like this and with respect would suggest that anyone whose health and wellbeing are so severely compromised by even the most benign form of face covering should simply not risk going out in public.

This will sound harsh but I’m going to say it: it’s not all about you. Everybody is suffering badly in this crisis. Apart from all the lives lost, jobs and livelihoods are disappearing fast, education is in chaos, necessary NHS treatments can’t be had, many people haven’t been able to leave their homes or socialise in months, frontline workers are at constant risk. Nobody is untouched.

I’m sorry if you encounter hostility and suspicion when you swan around with n o face covering, but you should not be surprised and you should expect it to get worse. Everybody is fed up, everybody has had enough. Nobody is a special case any longer.

The wisest thing anybody ever said to me is that people don’t judge you by the number of problems you’ve got, but by what you do to overcome them. I’ll leave it at that.

From Sara W

Friday, 31 July 2020

Graham, with all due respect it's clear that you don't know what it's like to have disabilities that can make it difficult to be out in public in the first place, never mind any extras that make it intolerable.

It is unfair on anyone who is struggling to say that using a legal disability accommodation in order to do the things other people do much more easily is "swanning around".  These legal exemptions exist to help people who are struggling.  I struggle, Susan told us all she struggled. There are many others in Hebden Bridge and the upper valleys who struggle.

Please stop making it harder for us.  

There can be a big difference to having an illness that makes it unsafe for us to be exposed to any risk of coronavirus (my GP said my risk is unlikely to be higher, I don't have conditions like diabetes or respiratory problems or major organ malfunctions, I don't even qualify for flu jabs!). I do however have several disabling conditions which I do not have to justify - they are all documented by various agencies - that mean wearing a face mask is not manageable.

Life is hard enough with complex disability needs without facing attack for using legal accommodations granted to special needs groups. 

From Jae Evans

Friday, 31 July 2020

For Graham: I have neurological and sensory disabilities, issues with pain, balance and mobility, cognitive hurdles to over come - is this enough to be going on with? Sometimes housebound for weeks with fatigue - perhaps this isn't enough?

Your pithy attitude and pearls of perceived wisdom regarding the wearing of face coverings - ''If you can't wear them then don't go out!'

Ha.  I'm not even going to discuss how ridiculous they are in the fight against covid: that the majority wearing them do so incorrectly - rendering them useless or more dangerously - counter productive!  Or that you, Graham, and others have ''Had enough!''  You poor sod.

I'm just happy you have the physical and mental capacity to go and do your own shopping whenever you chose to, Graham, because let's face it - if you had to deal with such challenging disabilities and daily struggles all year round: simply to get up in a morning, dress, and travel to the shop - then to be judged by others or abused, quite honestly, Graham, I'd fear for your ability to cope - I really would!

From Paul Weatherhead

Sunday, 2 August 2020

The evidence for the effectiveness of face masks is weak, contradictory and any benefit is likely to be small. These are not sufficient grounds for compelling people to wear a dehumanising soggy rag around their faces. Ms Finch says it will save lives, yet the (grossly exaggerated) Covid-19 death rate is falling and excess deaths are below the 5 year average and have been for some time.

Susan Quick is right to criticise the crass harassment she received at the Co-op. We do not need to account for ourselves to shop assistants nor anyone else. The government regulations say those who are exempt are not required by law to produce documentation.

Mr Barker writes that face masks "demonstrate you're complying with face covering requirements". More than this, they demonstrate supine obedience to a government that clearly doesn't know what it's doing and signals your mute acceptance of a neurotic, misanthropic public health policy.

From Ms. P. Finch

Monday, 3 August 2020

It was never my intention, when starting this thread, that people with disabilities would be put on the spot. Though it has been useful to hear of peoples different experiences.

Re. following very poor government guidelines, as we are finding, it is much better to be guided by our own common sense.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Prime Minister and Michael Martin, Irish president have had way more wisdom and sensitivity in this crazy time. 

From Claire Laner

Saturday, 8 August 2020

"You can't blame people for being unable to tell whether someone not wearing a mask is exempted or can't be bot hered."

Maybe they should mind their own business then. It's not okay to interrogate people about disabilities you don't consider sufficiently visible. Might mean you miss out on haranguing someone who should wear a mask and doesn't, but that's a small price to pay for not accidentally harassing someone who has a genuine reason. 

From Sarah W

Sunday, 6 September 2020

From a New Scientist magazine article last week titled "Why some people cannot wear a face covering":

"Face coverings can ... trigger anxiety and panic attacks in those who are vulnerable, says UK mental health charity Mind. People with autism may have issues if they experience heightened touch or smell - so that a mask feels smothering - or if they struggle with the change to their routine...

"In the UK, people are legally exempt from wearing a face covering if they are unable to use one because of disability or if it causes them severe distress. This is subjective, so we should accept the choice of individuals going unmasked, says Tim Nicholls at the UK's National Autistic Society.

"Those exempt can wear a badge explaining their medical reasons if they wish, but they aren't obliged to do so. "We have to encourage people to wear a mask if they can, but be understanding if they can't," says Nicholls."

From Vivienne H

Monday, 14 September 2020

Rightly, we've made progress in understanding that differently-abled people shouldn't always be required to conform to whatever suits the majority. One-size-fits-all policies cause a lot of avoidable damage to individuals.

I also understand that some people feel very uncomfortable wearing a mask. As someone with a respiratory problem, I'm not ecstatic about it myself. I dislike even the sensation of having water on my face, let alone a fixed piece of cloth.

But in the posts about this, I see no concern for others on the part of those who wish to be exempt - just a demand that they be treated as special, & their potentially-injured feelings be given precedence over the lives of the rest of us. Panic attacks are undoubtedly disturbing and distressing. Dying of Covid-19 is a hell of a lot worse. And that, you don't recover from.

You can learn to control panic attacks. You can't learn not to inhale viral particles, or prevent your immune system over-reacting to it and inducing a fatal cytokine storm. And I would suggest that the after-effects of a panic attack, or the memory of having a sensation you didn't like, are considerably less severe than the often irreversible physiological damage caused by the virus. 

It's taken some months for Covid-19 to get a foothold here, but now, it seems to be coming into the valley from both ends. Masks to protect others when in town seem to me essential, as are social distancing, & frequent handwashing. Sanitising the handles of food trolleys & baskets, or whatever comes into your home, & using washable gloves, are also sensible precautions which play a part in reducing transmission.

We're fortunate here in having access to the open spaces of canal banks, parks and moorland, where masks needn't be worn because viral particles aren't concentrated, as they are in buildings.  Can't people who don't want to wear masks arrange to have food delivered? It isn't a human right to use public transport or go into food shops without one. It's just plain selfish.

From K. Winterton

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

I work in a shop in HB, and I notice most people I see frequently touch their masks while wearing them, meaning all that might have been transmitted by air is being transferred by hand instead, which means mask wearing isn't helping much anyway, and not wearing a mask probably makes people more careful about distancing and touching their faces.

Full support to those who can't wear one: be careful in ways you can cope with of course, but don't let people who refuse to understand your needs intimidate you from doing normal activities like your own shopping.  Disability accommodations exist to level the playing field; if you need to use them do. Keeping your distance from others and not touching your face will probably make you safer than anyone else, not more risky.

From Vivienne H

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Masks are not worn primarily to protect the wearer. They are worn to protect others from the wearer's exhalations.

The idea is to keep your droplets to yourself, & not expel them into the air so that they fall on nearby surfaces, including  other people's clothes. Studies have shown that people are infectious for days before they experience symptoms. 

The advice to people to refuse to be "intimidated" into wearing masks because they will probably be safe anyway - as indeed they will if the more responsible are protecting them by masking -  is encouragement to jeopardise the safety of everyone else. Why would you want to do that?

Community is about taking care of each other. If only some people reciprocate, it doesn't work. We have 134 dead now, with new cases every day. I'd say that doing everything we can to reduce transmission is everyone's moral obligation.

From Michael Prior

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

I suggest that some official monitoring by some kind of marshal is needed to enforce wearing face-masks is shops.

I was sworn at in Marshall's by a man not wearing a mask and spouting at the top of his voice when I mentioned that he should be wearing a mask.

The young assistants were clearly rather intimidated by this oaf.

Where are the community police when they are needed?

From Paul Weatherhead

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

We need to get Covid into perspective and be more grown up about the risk (or lack of risk) it poses. According to the Office for National Statistics, more people have died from flu and pneumonia since June.

In the week ending September 4th, 78 people died from Covid, though it has to be remembered that the stats are completely unreliable. People who die of heart attacks, dementia, strokes etc who also are suspected of having Covid are counted as Covid deaths.

On top of that, testing creates many false positives which further skews the figures. Recent research by Carl Mayers suggests that the vast majority of “cases” are false positives. Add to that the fact that testing has been ramped up, so of course there will be more cases, most of whom have no symptoms.

Oxford University epidemiologist Carl Heneghan pointed out that if we’d measured deaths from the winter flu epidemic of 17/18 in the same way as Covid deaths are measured, then that epidemic would have been worse than the present one.

Regarding masks, there’s little evidence that non surgical ones make much difference. They do, though, ramp up fear and hysteria and encourage us to view one another as walking biohazards. Protecting the vulnerable makes sense. Ruining everyone’s life for ever does not, given the low risk to the vast majority of people.

We seem to be stumbling towards a new kind of secular puritanism. Puritans value modesty and obedience (cover your face in mute submission), cleanliness (wash your filthy hands at every opportunity) and have an unhealthy suspicion of pleasure (no parties, no gigs, no kissing, no touching, no picnics, no sunbathing, no handshakes). Puritans see dissent as evil (no mask- you’re a granny killer). 

We need to burn our rancid gob nappies and get back to normal or we’ll be stuck in this weird joyless public health dystopia forever. And ever, Amen.

From K. Winterton

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Just to clarify: I mean that people who can't wear masks but keep their distance from others more as a result, and don't touch their faces which might transfer others' droplets onto their hands and anything they touch after that ... are less risk to others not just to themselves.

In my shop work I am seeing, several times an hour, people in masks standing right next to or right behind others in masks from a different household.  Yet last week a local man I know who has both visible and invisible disabilities ...came in not wearing a mask, and I saw that when mask wearing people (everyone else in the shop) noticed he wasn't wearing one, they gave him a lot more space.

I wonder if using hand sanitiser as customers come in is giving them a false sense of security.  Hand sanitiser is only active until it dries, so usually only for a few seconds after application. Once the alcohol has evaporated then touching your mask once again carries whatever you are breathing onto whatever you touch from then on, until you use hand sanitiser again.

My original point is that no one shames and blames mask wearers who touch their masks a lot, but there is a lot of shame and blame being doled out in the direction of disabled people who can't manage a mask. 

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

I’m getting weary of the argument that ‘science’ proves there is no real problem, so it’s all a deliberate attempt to control a gullible and fearful populace. If paranoia and conspiracy theory is your thing, fill your boots but leave me out of it. 

One thing we should have learned by now is that science is all over the place on covid-19 but I and a reasonable number of other people are happy to accept a broad global consensus that yes, it’s serious and needs to be stopped from getting worse and yes, we all have a part to play in doing that.

Face coverings may not be great protection but they’re not useless and they show that you’re playing the game, even if you might privately not be a big fan of the game. Someone not wearing a face covering is in effect sticking two fingers up at those who do. One can only guess how long that will be tolerated.

From K.Winterton

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The science, as we are given it and as written in current Covid related law, says that those who wear face masks are a reasonably low risk if they stay at least 1 metre apart from anyone not in their household/social bubble when indoors.

The science/law also says that people not wearing face masks are a reasonably low risk if they stay 2 metres away in the same conditions.

Since a noticeable percentage of face mask wearers are frequently standing closer than 1 metre away from others not from their household, and when someone isn't wearing a face mask others are being much more careful about giving them the recommended distance ... it would look like the science, or at least the official rule, supports that those not wearing face masks and thus being deliberately extra distanced from ... are in general creating less risk than those who are wearing masks and getting too close to others, or having other mask wearers standing too close to them.

Ideally there wouldn't be a need for this comparison, as face mask wearers ought to be staying further away from others, but the reality is not what you would hope.

From Paul Weatherhead

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Graham Barker, I don’t think anyone (on this forum) said the Covid pandemic is a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy requires planning, intelligence and competence, qualities which are hard to find in this government. It’s not that there is no “real” problem. There is, but the risk to most people is extremely low. In fact, a similar risk to other seasonal respiratory viruses. And the cost of continuously exaggerating and obsessing about the risk is high in terms of life, love, jobs, happiness and fun.  Protect the vulnerable, yes. Quarantine and micro-manage the daily activities of the well? No thanks. But if you want to wear a mask despite the limited and dubious protection they afford you and others, fill your boots. I would hope that people not wearing masks will always be tolerated because we’re a tolerant society and how we see dissent is a marker for how tolerant we are.

From John P

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

When you think about it:

In pubs, restaurants and cafés customers don't wear masks, and should keep at least two metres apart.

When you're shopping, if you see someone who isn't wearing a mask, keep at least two metres away from them.

What's the difference? You're managing your own risk in both situations. It's every individual's responsibility to proceed with vigilance in all public places, no matter what anyone else is doing or why they are doing it.

From Vivienne H

Friday, 18 September 2020

My priority is the protection of the most vulnerable, i.e those likely to die horribly if they contract Covid-19. 

That means taking every possible precaution to guard against viral transmission in public space.

Many people obviously share that perspective, because they - masked & gloved & distanced - have been sustaining volunteer services for months, so that others can minimise their social contact. 

It isn't a question of not accommodating disability, or of intimidating anyone, or of interfering with personal freedom. It's a question of having a sense of proportion. 

Keeping safe those amongst us who are most susceptible to dying of the virus, is surely more important than insisting on your right to be exempt from rules that make you feel uncomfortable or which you dislike. These are not normal circumstances. 

Those with sensitivities about wearing masks have had their rights acknowledged, by the community & by the government, & in fact, even someone refusing to wear a mask without a reason is not being arrested. We are advised, not forced. But I hope that our community is one which places the preservation of life at the top of its agenda, & chooses to act collectively to safeguard everyone.

From Gideon Foster

Friday, 18 September 2020

From my perspective if Governments are going to play God over health issues as seems the case now, then they have to look at the much bigger picture than Coronavirus in isolation, because our current reaction to it has implications for our liberty, freedom and much more in the way of economic stress. These factors all have knock-on effects on physical health and wellbeing.

In fact I've found NHS studies online estimating the six major death causes in society can be linked in around 70% of cases to stress, so is this really saving lives now but with the downside of many early deaths in the future? It's not quantifiable as these will be heart attacks, strokes etc. so will go unreported and will not be attributable to political decision making I'm sure.

It's not an easy decision for anyone to make but I don't feel the decisions at the moment are considering the whole picture.
With specific regard to face masks, that is what we have decided as a democracy and therefore should abide by. However, if this really about saving lives then do we not have to live like this forever? It's not just Covid, even the common cold viruses which have no vaccine or cure are sadly linked to many Pneumonia deaths every year, so when this is hopefully over, do we go back to life as normal in the knowledge that the same thing happens every year? How can we consider it acceptable for some illnesses and not others.

It makes me question the whole issue and whether our reaction to it is even rational.

From Maxine A

Friday, 18 September 2020

 What isn't being understood here is that what may be a relatively small discomfort for you can be unbearable - literally unbearable - for people with some kinds of disabilities.

The New Scientist article quoted earlier in this thread mentions autistic people specifically.  Autistic and other neurodivergent people,who may look just like anyone else,  can be so painfully sensitive to stimuli that they cannot cope at all.  This can be in any or all of their senses, so for example a noise you can barely hear may be hugely distressing to an autistic person.

It's quite widely known that autistic people often cut the tags out of clothing, not because they're a tiddy bit bothersome, but because the sensations they get are agonising and stop them from being able to think about or do anything else.

Many autistic or otherwise neurodivergent adults struggle to cope in a shop under normal circumstances. Add in queuing outside and care about distancing, and then add on top of that literal agony of pain or itching or other tactile stimulus from a face covering, and it becomes impossible. Not a little bit of a nuisance but totally impossible.

Autistic and other neurodivergent people are usually very isolated. They are prone to various serious mental health conditions as a result.  So you can see that it is vital they can get back out among people, doing normal things as much as possible.

Non-autistic people with disabilities can be in a similar situation, in that they may be barely able to manage even without a face covering. Wearing one can push them over the line into completely unable to function.

It's a big mistake to assume that the experiences of other people equate to yours in a similar situation. It shows an unfortunate lack of awareness.

Hopefully this post will help to spread better awareness of some aspects.

From Martin Lorenzo

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

And the most annoying thing is people wearing masks but not wearing properly. They put it under their chin, or they leave their nose outside.. I don't understand what's wrong with them, as you are already taking trouble of wearing a mask why don't you just wear it properly. I was staying at my property in Bavaria last month and people were very careful with wearing masks.

From Vivienne H

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Having worked with autistic and other differently-abled people I understand individuals' sensitivities perfectly well.

But just because their sensations & the way they're processed are real & vivid, it doesn't mean viral particles shed by them - or anybody else not covering their nose & mouth - are any the less toxic. Nor will the vulnerable groups exposed to environmental viral particles be magically preserved from harm, or death, just because no one intended it.

So I guess people will set their own priorities. Mine is to try to hinder any possibility of viral transmission to those least able to cope with it. 

From Dave R

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Called in a popular pub/restaurant yesterday 28/9/20. Disappointed to see a group of 3 young people who were going to eat, had to be asked if they had masks. 1 did and put it on. 2 didn't, so they simply pulled their t-shirt's up over their mouths, only to drop them down as they moved to their seat. 

If venues aren't going to manage it better, there is little hope. 

From Michael Wray

Saturday, 3 October 2020

 I have the solution! People who aren't afraid of Coronavirus can go out on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday one week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the next while those who are afraid can do the opposite. We' can all be happy! I'm going to suggest it to Boris right now.