They were once reserved for the faces of the most coronavirus-prepared, those working on the front line against COVID-19 – the clinical blue and white oblongs a visual reminder to everyone at home that an invisible virus was looming.
Fast forward three or four nauseating months, and here we all are, habitually instructing our hands to loop two elastic bands behind our ears to secure our masks and face coverings in a daily routine that’s now become as familiar as brushing our teeth.
Victoria has made wearing masks mandatory, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to also wear one in enclosed spaces such as on public transport, shopping for groceries, in areas of high community transmission, when attending a place of worship or while facing customers in a a hospitality or retail job.
Extremely 2020 problem: I’ve lost my “good” facemask.— Rosalind (@rozya) July 15, 2020
In the meantime, a culture war has been waging between those happy or at least resigned to wearing masks and those who don’t believe in enforcement – either because they question their efficacy in the fight against COVID-19 or because they see it as an infringement of rights to be told to wear one.
That same culture war is playing out in the US, fuelled by the whims of politicians and the great American public. Meanwhile, in other countries, particularly in parts of Asia where face masks and coverings have been commonplace for decades, people are bemused at what our problem is.
But like them or not, as masks have become normalised, they have also become personalised.
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