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Wearing a mask, the new normality ?

Wearing a mask, the new normality ?

What does “new normality” mean to you?
 
What seemed to be a unique Chinese problem became a worldwide health crisis all of a sudden. However, and although many are tempted to think so, the problem is still there and at any moment there could be a new outbreak that would force countries back to the beginning again.
 
Currently, countries are dealing with the spread of the virus, but the reality and global consequences are obvious: serious economic crisis, increased unemployment, and closure of companies. Besides, after difficult months of lock down and strict measures, citizens are starting to need a sense of normality: people to socialize and companies to resume their activities.
 
Evidence in line with the WHO leaves no doubt that wearing face masks should be highly recommended if not mandatory to help to contain the spread of the virus as well as to carry a “new normal” life. In many countries like Spain and now Belgium, it is already the necessary price to enter public spaces. Other countries however keep adopting more flexible measures. 
 
 Whatever the science, the reality is that wearing masks makes a difference, it is our best weapon of protection: to protect both yourself and the others. It is the new norm, our present normality to carry out our usual daily activities and routines, like simply going to the supermarket. Nevertheless, some other usual habits such as hand skahing are unlikely to be practiced anytime soon. Consequently, the higher the normalization of behaviors including wearing a mask and other sanitary precautions is needed, and will likely increase over time, particularly if we indeed experience a second wave.  
 
We can and should now refer to them as of common use. Some people already refer to this period as the Age of Mask for future historians. However, if we look back, for Asians this common use is far from being new. 
 
So why has wearing masks trend primarily been restricted to Asian countries? 
 
Asians, particularly in Japan and China, have worn masks for a number of environmental and cultural reasons, including non-surgical ones, since the fifties. For instance, in Japan, they wear masks when feeling sick as a courtesy and to avoid any sneeze cough on other people. Also, in China, following the Chinese traditional medicine, masks are used to preserve healthy breathing as a sign of good health. Besides, Philippine motorcycle riders wear masks to avoid car exhausts in heavy traffic.
 
Moreover, masks have become so popular that they are now manufactured as something fashionable, with no protective function. In the same way that not everyone likes to buy the same shirt, trendy masks have been available in an infinite range of possibilities: colors, prints, flowers, and even customized. In these particular times, the brightest thing to do according to experts seems to be continuing using surgical or reusable community masks (comfort masks).
 
Wondering when Coronavirus will end?
 
Wondering when the virus will end? Will there be a second wave?  You are not alone. It is the big question which comes to our minds. As countries begin to reopen and activities restart, we will probably experience future outbreaks of viral transmission, which could cause the number of contagions to rise again. Nothing is certain yet, but it seems that until a vaccine is widely available and accessible, the implementation of sanitary measures including wearing masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing will be required to be strictly followed.
 
These precautions are gradually allowing to recover normality such as gathering with friends and family, returning to work, or traveling. And the time has come to act responsibly in order to avoid a second lock down. 
 
It is true that our lives will never be the same as long as the virus remains somehow stubbornly in our minds, despite complying with all sanitary precautions. This special context has resulted in the adoption of habits like wearing masks as part of our daily lives. Far from being forgotten, they are our new normality.

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