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Should stores enforce the new facial mask law? Customers like Tesco and Sainsbury refuse to report

Julie Burchill (pictured) states that infection rates have dropped dramatically, with no one wearing masks

Julie Burchill (pictured) states that infection rates have dropped dramatically, with no one wearing masks


By Julie Burchill

During lockdown I was obedient; I stayed away from all people except my husband, did not participate in the 2,000-strong rave that took place at the end of my street, and did the shopping for screened neighbors.

I’m pretty community-oriented nowadays; the best thing for me at the end of the lockdown was returning to my beloved volunteer job.

Still, I can anticipate the cries of ‘It’s all about you!’ and “Plague Diffuser!” when I say that I intend to do everything I cannot do to wear a mask.

Yes, I know some scientists swear they will stop the spread of the coronavirus, but many more say they are meaningless. And infection rates have dropped dramatically anyway after months that hardly anyone wore them. I find them stupid and sinister.

Crazy, because when I see people wearing them, especially young, powerful people, I can’t help but think that they perform to some degree; that they want to feel like they are in a hospital drama.

Sinister because I remember how the lockdown consisted of two parts; at first it was all Kumbaya and cupcakes, and when boredom struck, it went from Little Women to Lord Of The Flies when busy layabouts started bullying people for going to work and “spreading” the virus.

It is the part of the French revolution after the fun and games, when Robespierres would bring the neighbors together.

Who’s going to control this petty crime? More retailers would not benefit. Besides, can they trust to lay down the law for everyone, not just those who don’t get angry? I just got back from a cooperative where a young woman was bullied to cover herself while two muscular young men walked around happily with bare faces.

Some pretend to be in a hospital drama

It is unfair, but I understand why store employees are not willing to endanger themselves anymore. Co-op has reported a surge in staff abuse since the new rules were introduced.

There are so many totalitarian hellholes in the world. But here we have a contract with those who govern us, asking for rights and responsibilities for and on both sides.

For a rebellious people (see Brexit) we have been good and deserve a kind of summer; there are only a few weeks left and then there is a chance we will be locked up again.

Let’s have our day in the sun, feel the warmth on our faces and smile at strangers, not muzzled like pit ponies, each gagging in our own personalized prison of dribbling and fear.


Jess Wood (pictured) says wearing a grocery store mask is hardly a big question

Jess Wood (pictured) says wearing a grocery store mask is hardly a big question

Jess Wood (pictured) says wearing a grocery store mask is hardly a big question

By Jess Wood

How far would you go to protect your child? Chances are you love to jump off a cliff. If you don’t have kids, what about your mom?

I happen to be the mother of a medically vulnerable girl, who is on the Covid-19 list because of a serious long-term condition. And I would go quite far – to the ends of the Earth – to protect her.

Being asked to wear a mask for half an hour while I do a grocery store is therefore hardly a big question. While I understand that children at higher risk for Covid are in the minority, unfortunately millions of other adults are not.

There is evidence that supermarkets are high on the list of high-risk virus transfer environments, and masks may help reduce that spread.

So I haven’t bleached in door handles for three months to endanger myself – and my daughter – because stores can’t have words with the oddly selfish (or absent) customer.

The furor surrounding who should be charged with enforcing the new rule reminds me of a playground struggle: you know, when kids all go back, whining, “It’s not my fault, miss.” But Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda are not children. Claiming it’s just too much to ask them to make sure wearing facials on their own property doesn’t cut it.

The police do not have the time or resources to storm Asda every five minutes. Instead, supermarkets are certainly big enough to take on this rather small responsibility. Not least because of their own staff.

Assuming that every customer plays a ball is a bit like asking Dominic Cummings to take care of five children when he has the flu. Might work, but maybe not. . .

The police cannot storm Asda every five minutes

To those who have violated civil liberty and ‘poor old Sainos – why should they?’ I would answer that we are hardly talking about telephone surveillance at the Korean level here.

Do we accuse ward nurses who insist that we wash our hands before going to IC because we are trampling on our personal hygiene rights?

I may be the mother of a child at medical risk, but I am also a weak working mother; even I have to be reminded. The cooperative security guard recently pointed accusingly at my bare face as I hung by the door.

Instead of being ashamed, I’m relieved that stores are emerging to protect everyone. Especially my daughter. Someone has to do it. And shouldn’t that be the managers of our supermarkets? They have made us proud of the entire pandemic, so now we cannot drop them on the last hurdle.