Should masks be mandatory?

While some European countries have made wearing a face mask mandatory for shopping or going out in public in general, other governments are hesitating to introduce such rules due to doubts about their efficacy and lacking availability. Some states are now planning to lift the requirement altogether. So the mask remains a hot topic in the media.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A symbol of our time

Writer and screenwriter Gabriele Romagnoli examines the deeper significance of the now ubiquitous mask in La Repubblica:

“Italy is sticking its head out once again. Or at least half-way out. The other half is hidden, unknown, like the future that awaits the country. ... From neighbors to concierges, from taxi drivers to cashiers, from unknown passers-by to unrecognised friends. The mask is the absolute symbol of our time. It combines fear and kindness, confusion and determination, dread and (because one never gives up) seduction. Its real nature has been turned on its head: it has gone from being an instrument of protest to being a sign of obedience. From disreputable garment to one we can't do without. ... It hides and communicates at the same time. It precludes, but also alludes.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Government doesn't care what experts say

As of May 25 Czechs will no longer be required to wear face masks. Hospodářské noviny is anything but enthusiastic:

“So ends the myth according to which the government bases its decisions strictly on the assessment of epidemiologists. Instead it bases them on the popular mood. And the people think the fight against the virus has already been won. ... The government is certain that if it does come to a second wave of the pandemic, society won't panic as it did before. And that the economy is crucial for political success. Yes - but at the cost of human lives.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Don't wait for the WHO

The positive experiences of other countries outweigh the doubts of the World Health Organization, the Times of Malta puts in:

“The WHO, unfortunately, has all too often been reactive in this crisis rather than proactive. Some European countries, such as the Czech Republic, have already taken the decision, and there are claims it is working. Given the urgent need of containing the spread of Covid-19, our Superintendent of Public Health would be well advised to look at the evidence from countries where mask-wearing is the norm, or has become mandatory, rather than wait for a protocol from an unwieldy organisation that has to take into consideration the resources and capabilities of all countries.”

Expresso (PT) /

Back to normality with face masks

Since the curfew cannot be maintained long enough there is no alternative to masks, Expresso explains:

“Every week of confinement leads to tens of thousands of new unemployed, mass bankruptcies, huge budget deficits, social problems, mental and physical illness, violence, exclusion and soon even hunger. Those with a minimum of social and economic security tend to ignore this, but the confinement has its limits. Limits beyond which it can become a more serious problem than the pandemic itself. ... Many will have to return to work and a more or less normal life before the pandemic is over. And it is likely that until there is a vaccine, the mask will become a compulsory accessory in certain spaces such as the workplace or public transport.”