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Showing Your Support

In an upset to my normal lockdown routine, I ended up going shopping tonight rather than earlier in the week. As a result, I was halfway around the shop when it was time for the weekly 'Clap for the NHS workers'. While there were a fair number of people clapping around the tills, it was much quieter in the rest of the shop. There was however one person in the aisle next to mine who was trying to make up for everyone else.

This shopper clapped very enthusiastically for the full length of the minute and I couldn't resist. As I made my way down the centre aisle, I had a quick look to see if I could spot our enthusiastic clapper. There was only one person in that aisle so there was no doubt this was our man. I did note that this person was wearing gloves, but not a mask.

At the start of the pandemic, both the UK and Scottish governments recommended against gloves and masks outside of clinical settings. The main fear is that it can give a false sense of security and if handled incorrectly and not washed, can increase the likelihood of spreading the virus. However since then, the evidence has changed and both governments have now updated their advice. Masks are now recommended indoors to help reduce the spread.

So why was our enthusiastic clapper wearing gloves but not a mask? I didn’t talk to him, so I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that part of it is down to not wanting to look like a plonker.

It is one thing to be loud and show support, but hiding your face like a timid wee creature? That is a step too far. We have always associated masks as things to protect us from external things. Wearing a mask makes you look scared. Makes you look like you don’t want to be infected by everyone else. In some ways it makes you look selfish.

But that is not why we should wear a mask. The mask is not there to protect us, it is there to protect everyone else. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that is asymptomatic, but could still pass it on. Masks aren’t perfect, but they help. But they will only help if they are widely worn. They will only help if they become normal.

If you want to show your support by clapping, that is all fine and well, but it might also be worth showing your support by following the guidance. All of it. Yes, wearing a mask or a scarf over your face will feel silly at first, but if enough people start to do so, it will feel more silly to be in the minority who doesn’t.

Wearing a mask is not a sign of fear or distrust. It is a sign of compassion and courtesy. Please wear a mask indoors.

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