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Living in the post-pandemic world: mask on, or mask off?

In a post-pandemic world that we have not yet reached but inch closer to every single day, will the social norm be to keep a mask on, or to take it off?

2021 is looking promising. The economy is making a steady return as the city reopens. The streets are crowded with people and traffic again. More and more people are comfortable with going back to shop in public spaces.

The comeback of tourists in the U.S., in addition, helps boost consumer spending in the country in general.

Even now before an official post-pandemic, is it mask on or mask off?

You might have already noticed the significantly decreased number of mask-wearing people in public areas.

While many states have lifted the mandatory mask covering order, some still follow the federal guidance to execute mask rules. At least in NYC, for example, people are still required to wear face coverings in public transportations, regardless of their vaccination statuses.

Living in the current post-pandemic world, people debate between keeping the mask on and forgoing the mask entirely and keeping it off. There are several factors that influence people’s opinions of mask wearing.

The increasing availability of vaccines to the public

At first, distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine was very limited and selective. The vaccine was only available to frontline workers during the time. However, as the production of the Covid-19 vaccine gradually catches up with the public demand, more people are able to get the vaccine.

People, generally, feel safer to be vaccinated; They consider the vaccine a barricade that protects them from being exposed to the virus. The vaccine, in this case, replaces the presence of a face mask.

The government relaxes the mask covering policy

Just not so long ago, CDC also announced that if a person is fully vaccinated, the person can accordingly take the mask off in public. Well, if they enter locations that still have specific face covering laws, rules, and regulations, they still have to obey the orders.

post-pandemic mask on
Image via Health Matters.

This is no doubt a thrilling announcement to people who have not been a fan of face covering. Nonetheless, the announcement is rather dubious and controversial.

The fact is nobody knows how many of those people who no longer wear masks have actually fulfilled their vaccinations. Besides, the stores don’t usually ask customers to show their vaccination cards to validate their vaccination statuses. People can honestly just lie about the fact.

The raging summer heat

Another reason to the rapidly declining mask covering practice is the summer heat.

The thick fabric of the mask traps sweats and causes regular skin irritation. It’s only predictable that people are reluctant to still wear them in the blazing sun.

That is why walking on the streets in Southern states like Florida, you barely see people wearing masks anymore. It’s not an exaggeration, the sun is really killing the skin. Nobody wants an awkward face mask tan.

Even as we approach a post-pandemic world, we must be smart and keep our masks on

The government seems to have the Coronavirus under control in the country for now. We haven’t heard as many cases as we did during the pandemic.

However, the question is, how much do we know about the actual Covid-19 infection rate at the moment? And since the virus is no longer the heated topic in media, people’s concern about public health seemingly contract over time.

new variants of covid-19
Image via Statista.

Recently, cases of new variants such as the Alpha variant (dominant in the UK) and the Delta variant (first detected in India) of Covid-19 virus have also spiked; they are becoming the dominant strain of coronavirus in the country.

These new variants are “stickier,” more contagious, and more life-threatening. The nasty part about the new variants is that people can still be contracted with them even they are fully vaccinated.

The problem is the public is not yet aware of the dangers of these variants. People get relaxed and think that the Coronavirus is finally going away for good

At present time, mask-on or mask-off is really a personal decision. However, for the good of public health and personal safety, maybe it is better to still maintain rationality at the time; we should all act cautiously and wisely choose the appropriate time and location to mask off if we really need to. After all, safety first.