Covid face masks are a vital tool in the pandemic, not a political football – Scotsman comment

“No social conditioning. No oxygen deprivation mask. No latex dirty germ spreader,” said the sign outside the Apple Bistro in Placerville, California, which attracted controversy after refusing to serve anyone wearing a mask.

Most MPs on the Opposition benches wore face masks, unlike those on the Conservative side of the Commons' chamber (Picture: UK Parliament/Roger Harris/PA Wire)
Most MPs on the Opposition benches wore face masks, unlike those on the Conservative side of the Commons' chamber (Picture: UK Parliament/Roger Harris/PA Wire)

In America, the use of face coverings to stop the spread of Covid became a major political football, with Donald Trump mocking Joe Biden in the run-up to the US election, saying “I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask”.

Amid such electioneering, the long-suffering US government health adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, pleaded with people to do “the fundamental basic things… the flagship of which is wearing a mask” to combat the virus and urged them not to turn the question into a “political statement”.

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It appears politicians in the UK were not listening. For, as the Commons debated the Afghanistan crisis, the political divide was plain for all to see with most Opposition MPs wearing masks and most Conservatives not doing so.

It is worth recording that there were notable exceptions on the Tory benches, such as former Prime Minister Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Secretary, and Dr Luke Evans, a GP, who all wore masks.

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In tackling Covid, we should be guided by scientists and health experts – rather than cranks and conspiracy theorists – but also a sense of duty to one another.

And we should also abide by the law, whatever we think of the current government. In Scotland, people are still legally required to wear a face covering in shops, hospitals and other public places, and on public transport.

It is also “recommended” that a face covering is worn in crowded places where social distancing is difficult, such as at a school gate, so we do have an element of choice in the matter.

As Dr Fauci and almost every medical expert will relate, masks are a highly effective way of stopping the spread of Covid. They are not party political rosettes, they are useful tools that have saved countless lives.

And turning everything and anything into a badge of allegiance to one particular tribe or another is the road to ruin.

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