The rules are explicit: if travelling on public transport we must wear masks to protect against the spread of Covid-19. PAT PILCHER is aghast that so many are flouting government instructions.
While Aucklanders are collectively heaving a massive sigh of relief at having dodged another week of Level 3 lockdown, a small number of people are letting the side down. Most shocking of all, no one seems to be batting an eyelid that this is happening.
Catching a bus into Wellington’s CBD, I was shocked to see five people not wearing masks, despite the Government mandating mask-wearing on all public transport. It turns out that this wasn’t a one-off. On the way back home, I spied a further six people without masks.
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So, why is wearing a mask mandatory? According to the Ministry of Health, wearing a mask or face covering can reduce the risk of people who have Covid-19 spreading the virus to others. A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets from spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. This is referred to as ‘source control’. This isn’t some wacky government mandate. The World Health Organisation also recommends wearing masks as a means of stopping the spread of Covid-19.
After posting my observations to social media, it soon became apparent that this problem isn’t limited to Wellington’s buses. A friend even commented that he’d been on two buses in Auckland where people had refused to wear masks. Those rule-breakers had also lectured passengers on how Covid is a hoax and that wearing masks is an infringement of people’s rights.
In one case, the bus driver refused to go, saying, “No mask, no ride”, but in the end, the bus depot told him he has no power to physically force the person off the bus. Making matters worse, calling the police wasn’t going to work either. It would take so long for them to arrive that passengers would have had their commute delayed by a whopping two hours.
The truth is that wearing a mask isn’t impinging on anyone’s rights. Sure, it’s inconvenient; heck, it’s even uncomfortable, but wearing one is just about doing the decent thing, regardless of your own beliefs. Wearing a mask might also save lives.
Recently, after spending the day in Auckland, I got home and went out for dinner with some friends. The following day I came down with the mother of all chest colds. Then the news broke that there were multiple cases of Covid-19 community transmission in Auckland. I was mortified. I might have not only picked up Covid but unwittingly brought it to Wellington and infected my wife and several friends and dozens of others at the restaurant. I contacted the restaurant and my friends and subsequently got a test. Thankfully, it came back negative.
Covid-19, like other viruses, doesn’t discriminate who it infects. It just multiplies and spreads. Those inconsiderate maskless arseholes on my bus rides were all young and healthy. They’d all stand a good chance of surviving a Covid infection. The problem is that the parents, grandparents, and siblings/friends with health issues they came into contact with might die.
Even if they’ve swallowed Covid conspiracies hook line and sinker, putting a covering over their noses and mouth isn’t a huge ask. As I said earlier, it might even save some lives. If Covid-19 really is a hoax, then indeed, no harm will be done either way, so why not just put a damned mask on?
And what’s this thing about not obeying rules? When did that happen? The government has the authority to make the rules, which these bubbleheads need to follow regardless of their beliefs.
Consequences? Well, perhaps that’s the issue. It appears that at the moment, there are few consequences for those who fail to capitulate for their own selfish reasons.
The situation is challenging for bus companies. Bus drivers have enough on their plates, manoeuvring several hundred tonnes of machinery through city traffic and sticking to a demanding schedule. Dealing with unruly Covid conspiracists could be dangerous and is grief they simply don’t need, given the pittance they’re probably being paid.
Perhaps the Government, who’ve mandated mask-wearing, should stump up some money for random security patrols on buses to throw non-mask-wearing passengers off. Maybe if other passengers called out these “maskholes”, they’d be a little less self-absorbed and do the right thing.