Mask mandates must be lifted

Measures were never about infection control

The masking of healthy people in community settings is unlikely to reduce viral transmission, but has led to, and is maintaining, a range of profound social and psychological harms. As such, HART was encouraged by the decision to lift the requirement for children to wear face coverings in the classroom from 17 May, although it is concerning to read that this measure is still being enforced in some schools. HART urges the government to now remove all mask mandates by the next stage of their roadmap on 21 June.

The fact that masks do not reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 might seem counterintuitive but the evidence is clear. In addition to the perforations in a face covering being far too large to act as a barrier to tiny aerosols that contain virus, and their being worn incorrectly in community settings, there are likely to be two other reasons for their ineffectiveness. First, contrary to the government messaging, research suggests that healthy people without symptoms make only a minor contribution to the maintenance of a pandemic. Second, while proponents often argue that masks protect others by preventing the spread of respiratory droplets, there is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is mainly transmitted via microscopic aerosols — not by larger droplets — that are too small to be blocked by a mask. Even worse, cloth face coverings might amplify the spread of infectious particles by acting as a ‘microniser’ transforming large droplets, which would ordinarily fall to the ground close to the person, into smaller, truly airborne ones.      

The pressure is building for all mask mandates to be abolished. A HART petition calling for this change has now been signed by more than 68,000 people. A new campaign, Smile Free, is being launched this week with the primary aim of repealing all UK mask decrees as soon as possible and for them never to return. Also, there is increasing recognition that the requirement for healthy people to cover their faces was introduced in summer 2020, not as an infection control method per se, but as a psychological strategy to promote compliance; a member of SPI-B (the subgroup that advises government about their communication strategy) is quoted in Laura Dodsworth new book — A State of Fear — as admitting that his antipathy to face coverings was nullified by other group members who liked masks because they conveyed a message of ‘solidarity’. Meanwhile, in the US, a release from the mask obligation is now being used as an incentive to get more people vaccinated. If people choose to wear face coverings, so be it, but this should be a personal decision for each individual, not one imposed by a government diktat. Based on the above observations, it is reasonable to demand that all mask mandates be lifted on 21 June at the latest. This most insidious of all the coronavirus restrictions must never return.

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