Early last week, the British government announced that the UK’s total Covid-19 death count exceeded 100,000 people, making us the fifth country globally and the first in Europe to achieve such a sorrowful milestone. Hitting such a depressing statistic raises question of how we might prevent this figure from continuing to climb at such an alarming rate.

One suggested solution to this would be to make face masks mandatory to wear in public spaces. Ever since the beginning of this pandemic, scientists have been advocating and promoting the advantages of medical face masks. They have stated that they are more effective in containing the spread of the virus than simple face coverings with no filter.

Indeed, a sizeable proportion of the world’s affected countries have made them a requirement in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. Back in August, France made face masks a requirement in public spaces in its worst-affected areas, such as Paris. Then from September, face masks were a made a necessity in the workplace, with only individual offices being exempt from this rule.

According to www.italia.it, in Italy, one of the countries that was heavily struck by the virus in March and April, face masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and in all outdoor public spaces too if you are not isolated from people who make up the same household.

As for the UK, face masks were made mandatory in shops from the 24th July 2020, yet it was only in the past month or so that major supermarkets officially declared that they would deny entry to shoppers without the appropriate covering. Mask mandates ultimately rely on the fact that they will be enforced thoroughly by the local authorities and that people wear them correctly.

Nevertheless, now that the UK is being affected by a new strain of the virus, which is much more transmissible, scientists here are beginning to wonder whether face masks should play a bigger role in our daily lives too. The primary function of these masks is to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – indoors or out – and so, in tandem with the ongoing lockdown and the vaccine rollout, they could help to curb the rate of transmission and the number of deaths significantly.

Image Credits: Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Sophie Benbelaid

When she's not drowning in the workload from her French and Russian degree, Sophie enjoys reading, yoga, ballet and writing. You can usually find her staying up all night in the throes of an existential crisis or in your nearest bookshop. She has previously been a Cultures JE and a weekly book columnist for the Blue. In true 'the student becomes the master' form, she is now SE for Columns.