Oppose Mandatory Face Coverings in Scottish Shops. Stick with 2m Rule

Oppose Mandatory Face Coverings in Scottish Shops. Stick with 2m Rule

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Nikki Brooke started this petition to Nicola Sturgeon

The latest news from Nicola Sturgeon is that from July 10, it will become mandatory for face masks to be worn in shops across Scotland. 

This is a backward move in a much needed forward progression to return the country to normality. Face masks are restrictive, can cause anxiety and reduce our ability to breathe properly. There is no conclusive evidence that they will reduce the spread of the disease. 

The Scottish Grocers Federation are disappointed with this move as they say it will put pressure on their staff to enforce the measures, to which Ms Sturgeon responded that the police would be responsible for the situation and will be tasked with issuing penalty notices to those not adhering to the measure! 

Antonio Ivan Lazzarino from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, makes the following comments on the use of face masks during Covid 19 - published in the British Medical Journal (links to both below)

(1) Wearing a face mask may give a false sense of security and make people adopt a reduction in compliance with other infection control measures, including social distancing and hands washing.[3]

(2) Inappropriate use of face mask: people must not touch their masks, must change their single-use masks frequently or wash them regularly, dispose them correctly and adopt other management measures, otherwise their risks and those of others may increase.[3,4]

Other potential side effects that we must consider are:

(3) The quality and the volume of speech between two people wearing masks is considerably compromised and they may unconsciously come closer. While one may be trained to counteract side effect n.1, this side effect may be more difficult to tackle.

(4) Wearing a face mask makes the exhaled air go into the eyes. This generates an uncomfortable feeling and an impulse to touch your eyes. If your hands are contaminated, you are infecting yourself.

(5) Face masks make breathing more difficult. For people with COPD, face masks are in fact intolerable to wear as they worsen their breathlessness.[5] Moreover, a fraction of carbon dioxide previously exhaled is inhaled at each respiratory cycle. Those two phenomena increase breathing frequency and deepness, and hence they increase the amount of inhaled and exhaled air. This may worsen the burden of covid-19 if infected people wearing masks spread more contaminated air. This may also worsen the clinical condition of infected people if the enhanced breathing pushes the viral load down into their lungs.

(5B) The effects described at point 5 are amplified if face masks are heavily contaminated (see point 2)

(6) While impeding person-to-person transmission is key to limiting the outbreak, so far little importance has been given to the events taking place after a transmission has happened, when innate immunity plays a crucial role. The main purpose of the innate immune response is to immediately prevent the spread and movement of foreign pathogens throughout the body.[6] The innate immunity’s efficacy is highly dependent on the viral load. If face masks determine a humid habitat where the SARS-CoV-2 can remain active due to the water vapour continuously provided by breathing and captured by the mask fabric, they determine an increase in viral load and therefore they can cause a defeat of the innate immunity and an increase in infections. This phenomenon may also interact with and enhance previous points.

In conclusion, as opposed to Greenhalgh et al., we believe that the context of the current covid-19 pandemic is very different from that of the “parachutes for jumping out of aeroplanes”,[7] in which the dynamics of harm and prevention are easy to define and even to quantify without the need of research studies. It is necessary to quantify the complex interactions that may well be operating between positive and negative effects of wearing surgical masks at population level. It is not time to act without evidence.

It is only Scotland which is mandating this, the rest of the UK has a different approach

England  - 'You must wear a face covering at all times on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient.  If you can, you should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible'

Wales  -  'At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community is not supported by high quality scientific evidence. Social distancing and hygiene measures remain the most effective measures for reducing transmission of COVID-19'

Northern Ireland - 'It is recommended that you should think about using face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. You must wear a face covering on public transport from Friday 10 July'

It seems that the UK governments are using a 'pick and mix' style of restrictions and this is where I suggest that the Scottish government replace the mandatory wearing of facemarks in shops with maintaining 2m distancing. This has so far been effective and the incidences of Covid-19 have reduced during this period of lockdown using  this measure.


BMJ report Face masks for the public during Covid-19 Crisis 

Antonio Ivan Lazzarino response to BMJ report on 'Face masks for the public during Covid-19 Crisis





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