The president of the Royal Society has said, refusing to wear a mask in public during the Covid-19 epidemic should become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving or not wearing a seatbelt.
Royal Society’s Science in Emergencies Tasking Covid-19 group, published jointly by the British Academy and the Royal Society, highlighted how far the UK is trailing behind other countries.
Venki Ramakrishnan (President of the Royal Society) called for everyone to be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings, rather than only on public transport, and criticised confused messaging from the government.
Ramakrishnan said: “Wearing a mask did not bother our Italian, French or Spanish neighbours; none of whom were used to wearing one before the pandemic, yet now do so routinely.
“So just treat it as another item of clothing that is part of the new normal and wear it whenever you cannot socially distance safely. It is the right thing to do, and a small price to pay, to help keep infections down and the economy open in the pandemic.”
Ramakrishnan added that many people were even ignoring the requirement to wear masks on public transport.
“The message has not been clear enough, so perhaps people do not really understand the benefits or are not convinced of them. Whatever the reasons, we need to overcome our reservations and wear face coverings whenever we are around others in public.
“It used to be quite normal to have quite a few drinks and drive home, and it also used to be normal to drive without seatbelts. Today, both of those would be considered antisocial, and not wearing face coverings in public should be regarded in the same way.
“If all of us wear one, we protect each other and thereby ourselves, reducing transmission. We lower the chances of future surges and lockdowns which are economically and psychologically disruptive, and we increase the chance of eliminating the virus. Not doing so increases the risk for everyone, from NHS workers to your grandmother.”
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