Don't Throw The Face Mask Away, Yet, by Morak Babajide-Alabi
Blog, Newspaper Column, THOUGHTS

Don’t Throw The Face Mask Away, Yet

by Morak Babajide-Alabi

The government yesterday announced plans for easing the lockdown rules. Gradually, the July 19 Freedom Day seems to be moving towards becoming a reality. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the date is not a “jubilee” and, therefore, everyone should exercise caution. He said it “should not be taken as an invitation by everybody simply to have a great jubilee and freedom from any kind of caution or restraint.”

In other words, freedom is far away.  These changes will not instantly take us back to the pre-pandemic era. It will take some time to achieve this. Honestly, this should not be a thought in the mind of any rational human being for now. The road to recovery will not be bump-free, but all hands must be on deck to get back to a resemblance of the past.

The announcement of the lifting of all lockdown rules has not gone down well in some quarters. The British Medical Association thinks it is too early to throw caution in the winds, as the government has done. The council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has said: “It is irresponsible – and frankly perilous – that the government has decided to press ahead with plans to lift the remaining COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July.” One can understand where the medical people are coming from, going by their experiences during the first and second waves of the pandemic. 

It will be impetuous to think the government has not thought this through. It is a risk worth taking, the ministers and advisers think. They have said hospital admissions could be as high as 1000 to 2000 cases a day. It is why the government is stressing that there should be caution on the part of the populace.  They have warned that although freedom may be on the horizon, the table could still turn. Past experiences have shown us that when you think you saw the ray of light at the end of the tunnel, what you saw was a mirage. 

Nothing is predictable these days. The advent of COVID-19 has altered everything. It is increasingly becoming challenging to plan as we do not know what lurks in the corner, not far away. You may be thinking, what is the sense in lifting the lockdown when the cases are rising? The government, understandably, is eager to get the economy moving again. The prime minister has described his roadmaps out of the various lockdowns as “cautious and irreversible.” 

There is no doubt that this time, the economic benefits of lifting the lockdown outweigh whatever the medical data may indicate. Some of us are tired of the lockdown rules, the limitations, the inability to “create wealth” as businesses continue to fold.  For some, the mask is as restrictive as the virus itself. In another category are many who want to party and visit their loved ones. The government has the responsibility to keep the economy going. 

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay did not hide this fact when he said this morning that:  “… we also need to get back to normal, businesses need to fire up, we need to get the economy going – those are important as well.” 

If looked at critically, the lockdowns rules are not lifted in their totality. The government has merely placed the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the populace in their own hands. It has freed everyone from the legal restrictions but placed a moral burden on us. It is more or less saying, we have tried as much as we could as a government, but we need you now to do your part. Imagine, from 19 July, the legal requirement to wear a face-covering will be lifted, but will be advised to continue to wear one in enclosed and crowded settings. The decision to spread or curtail the virus is now for you and me to take.

The logic is that if a sizeable number of the population is vaccinated, then herd immunity is achievable. The goal is to have as many vaccinated during the summer, so the number of hospitalisation during the winter months will not overwhelm the NHS. 

Is it freedom? Not yet freedom. But freedom from legal restrictions. What role would we play in ensuring the virus does not spread again? We have to go back to the ‘Hands. Face. Space’ campaign. Don’t throw the face mask away yet. Let’s keep it as part of our fashion accessories.

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ABOUT MORAK

I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.

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