We do not have a civilization of sporting masks in Europe.
We mostly escaped the epidemics that ravaged Asia and forced them a frequent sight in people there.
And then arrived COVID-19.
Initially, we did not have sufficient masks. We had been advised to not use them were ill or looking after a person who had been.
Now they are mandatory around much of Europe.
In France, the nation that prohibited face coverings 10 decades back, masks should be worn all public transportation.
See this week’s installment: Why Are face masks ripping us apart?
Spain has enlarged this to include all spaces.
The changing regulations and increased forces handed to the authorities to preserve them have fuelled stress and even contributed to violent clashes.
Only 1 example came out of a marketplace in the south-west French city of Aubenas. Authorities were reprimanding a guy for not wearing a mask when a girl intervened.
A shouting match ensued, which resulted in the girl being arrested.
For many others, anger is directed not only at the enforcers but these flouting the principles.
A violent scuffle broke out to a bus Bordeaux, involving a guy not wearing a mask and a girl covering her face.
Through the lockdowns, we discovered claims of police brutality, with racial and cultural minorities reporting they were singled out.
Just how do we attempt to defuse these tensions while ensuring individuals follow the rules?
New York is currently earning”social distancing ambassadors” and we are seeing similar strategies here in Europe too.
These are classes of individuals, not connected to the authorities, functioning in the area to maintain the peace and be sure men and women are staying secure.
With masks sure to remain an integral area of the fightback from COVID-19, the worries that they heighten cannot be dismissed.