For my birthday this year, Boris Johnson has changed the law and imposed a new restriction to do with Coronavirus. From today, it will be a legal requirement for people to wear face-masks in shops. Now, whilst some people have been wearing face-masks already and want to know why it hasn’t been made law sooner, there are many others who are quite aggrieved at another impostion, some fearing that the virus is leading to creeping authoritarianism.
Well, I must admit that I’m not a great fan of wearing face-masks myself, not least when they cause my glasses to steam up but I believe it is important for us to act in ways that help others to be safe and to feel safe. That’s why we have asked everyone attending the chapel to wear a mask as well as washing their hands and keeping to the required distance apart. Part of the problem was the confusion in the early days about the safety advice with the message going out that facemasks were unlikely to protect you from the virus.
The result is that some people are still missing the point. The other day I saw a meme with someone saying “Are you confident that your face-mask works? Great, then you don’t need me to wear mine.” The problem is that people had got it into their heads that the aim of the facemask was to protect them as the wearer. However, the reason we are asked to wear them is so that if we are infected, we will not cough and splutter out COVID germs. The person in the meme might as well have said “You’ve not spat in this dinner have you? Great, you won’t mind if I do then.”
Now, in a situation like this, it is possible that the government is wrong or over-reacting. It is also possible that they are asking too little of us too late. There have been mistakes and changes of advice throughout the virus, we learn as we go along.
However, I think it is important for us to obey the authorities here. It seems that they are trying to make decisions in our best interest. So, I would encourage you to wear your facemask. This is an act of neighbourliness and a good witness too because
- We reduce the risk of spreading germs
- We show people who are feeling nervous that we care about their concerns
- We show that as Christians we take the health and safety of others seriously. If they see us acting responsibly in this matter then they are more likely to trust us to act responsibly towards their health when they visit our church services.