printed 06/26/2020

Say a restaurant has two buffet lines, one with a sign that reads, “Employees Must Wash Hands Before Handling Food,” and the other with a sign that says, “Handwashing by Food Handlers is Voluntary.” Which buffet line would you choose?

Obviously, people with any sense would pick the first buffet. They know the purpose of the handwashing requirement is to protect them from illness by preventing employees from unknowingly transferring germs from their hands to the food.

Why then, do some people have so much difficulty understanding the same concept applies to mask-wearing recommendations? Do they also think that food handler handwashing is to protect employees from picking up germs from the meatloaf special?

Safe food-handling protocols and mask-wearing are alike in that they both help to protect the public from the spread of disease by an individual, not the other way around.

Individuals who view mask-wearing in public as a sign of weakness, a political statement or as an acknowledgment of fear of covid-19 are missing the point: it is not about you.

Contrary to what some people apparently believe, standard surgical masks, their more fashionable relatives and kerchiefs do not protect wearers from this or any other virus. The bravado, the tough guy stances and the personal liberty assertions, therefore, are pointless, other than as evidence that facemasks opponents either don’t get it, or do get it but don’t care about anyone but themselves.

All facial coverings do is keep people from sneezing, coughing and hacking on each other when the possibility exists that someone might be infected and not know it. Wearing one is a health safety precaution, but it also is a matter of courtesy and respecting the rights of others.

People who object solely on the grounds that they think wearing a mask makes them look stupid, should understand that it’s better to look stupid than to brag publicly about their ignorance.

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