The campaign to beat the pandemic

A picture of an FFP2 facemask and its container

Comment Keep masks on towards a real end to Covid, for all

24 January 2022 / Janet Phillips

Zero Covid UK is campaigning for the promotion and distribution of FFP2/3 masks. All NHS, social care staff, teachers and those deemed at high risk should be issued with free FFP2/3 masks and the public advised of their advantage over cloth face coverings.
Janet Phillips (a Zero Covid UK supporter) brings us this commentary piece on why masks are still a necessary mitigation measure.

The Government’s decision to lift the rules on masks, along with other Plan B mitigations this week, is highly negligent.

The Government doesn’t care about: 

  • people more vulnerable to Covid:
  • the large and increasing numbers of people suffering from long Covid
  • the possible long-term effects of the virus on the health of children who have had Covid
  • the hundreds of people still dying from Covid each day
  • the continuing burden of Covid on the NHS
  • continuing disruption to education from Covid infections.

Lifting the mask rule turns those who are more vulnerable to Covid into second-class citizens: they will need to limit their movements and restrict their lives more, to avoid coming into contact with the virus. Those at greater risk are a large section of the population: 3.7 million people in England are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable alone, and additionally there are many more with conditions such as diabetes and asthma who are more vulnerable, as well as the significant number of unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated people.

As for long Covid, it is a multifaceted and not yet fully understood condition for the sufferer, which has enormous long-term implications for employment and disability benefits.

If the Government cared, it would be doing all it could to get the level of Covid infection right down, and to keep it down. Lifting rules on mask-wearing will achieve the opposite: a rise in infections. Studies have shown that masks do help reduce transmission of the virus.

It’s the spread, stupid!

The levels of Covid infection in the UK are still extremely high, even if the Omicron wave has peaked. Cases of Covid are still significantly disrupting school attendance and staffing in our health services. Lifting mask and other public health measure at this point in the pandemic is not following the science. It is premature, and thus irresponsible and foolish. The decision is aimed above all at appeasing the libertarian wing of the Tory Party, who want the freedom to live with disregard for the health of those around them. Wearing a mask does not limit what you can do and where you go: it helps protect you from catching the virus and it helps prevent you from infecting other people; it makes it safer for everyone to live freely.

The Government either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that allowing the virus to spread risks more mutations, some of which could render current vaccines ineffective.

Without stopping the spread of Covid, getting infections right down, and keeping them down, we will not free ourselves of this virus. It will only be a matter of time before infections rise again to a level that make reintroduction of protective measures, and possibly restrictions, inevitable. Why carry on through these cycles of infection and restrictions, rushes to get boosters into arms, and “living [if you are lucky enough not to be vulnerable] with the virus” when we really could get it under control and return to health, prosperity and freedom, for all? 

The mask rule needs to stay in place until infections are brought right down. It’s not enough to leave mask-wearing to personal choice: that would simply not be adequate for reducing transmission and protecting us all. 

Janet Phillips is a supporter of Zero Covid UK and a member of the campaign’s Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support (FTTIS) action group. You too can get involved in this work, join the campaign and let us know you’re interested in FTTIS by going here and we’ll be in touch soon!

Image source: “Close-up of an FFP2 face mask pulled half way out of its wrapping” by Ivan Radic is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Skip to content