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The one crucial point we all need to recognise about wearing a mask

By Megan Cassidy

July 19, 2020 at 1:08pm

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Today it was confirmed that from this week, masks will be mandatory for all residents of Melbourne every time they leave their home.

But how far behind a similar ruling are we in Ireland?

Currently, masks are compulsory on public transport and there's talk of them becoming mandatory in all stores soon, too. But still, the uptake in Ireland for face-coverings has been alarmingly low at just 41% compared to Italy's 83%.

And a quick glance around at the supermarket would suggest that that figure is even lower. Social pressure to wear masks is building online, but it would seem that it's the younger generation who are least likely to cover up when out and about.

There's a worrying idea that face coverings are for the vulnerable, the elderly, or those working in high-risk jobs, while those who are in the low risk category throw caution to the wind.

But here's the thing.

Your mask does not protect you, it protects the people around you.

When you see an elderly man in the post office queue wearing a face-covering, he is protecting you, not the other way around - and you should thank him for that. What's the best way to thank him? By putting on your own mask and protecting him right back.

Professor Martin McKee explained to The Irish Times: 

“What you’re doing is catching all the little droplets that are coming out of your mouth before they can get into the atmosphere, when they can dry out and become very small and float around as an aerosol. There is still stuff that is going to get out, but you are reducing that risk.

"We’re not talking about protecting yourself by wearing one, but about reducing the risk to other people.”

Surely this fact alone is enough for us to use common sense, and mask up, whether the government makes it mandatory or not.

Read next: Pubs, face coverings and house parties - All you need to know as phase 4 deferred until August

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