To the editor: Everyone must wear a mask in public

While I have been a supporter of Gov. Phil Scott, and think he and his team are doing an excellent job managing the Covid-19 crisis, I am concerned that mask wearing in public has not been made mandatory. It is a risky move and it just isn’t safe.

This virus is not going away. It is going to hide in all the corners of our society until it can be vanquished with a vaccine or a viable treatment, which are both far away. In the meantime, we have to protect ourselves and others, and we have to restart the economy. As we do that, the mandatory wearing of masks in public is critical for four reasons:

  1. To keep us safe from the virus and to keep us from spreading the virus to others. We know the virus is spread by inhaling infected droplets that are expelled through talking, sneezing and coughing. A mask, worn properly, stops large droplets and stops us from touching our faces. Wearing a cloth mask makes us safer.
  2. Gov. Scott, to his credit, shut down the economy early, which saved lives. It also prevented the natural spread of the virus and development of herd immunity throughout the population. Vermonters are just as vulnerable today as they were on March 25. When vacationers and their critically needed dollars come to Vermont, as they must for our economy to survive, we all are susceptible to infection. Vacationers need to be welcomed to Vermont and they need to wear masks in public. Vermonters also need to wear masks in public because we are susceptible to the virus and are also capable of spreading it unintentionally to others.
  3. Sometimes social distancing isn’t possible. Even if we maintain 6 feet of distance in a store, we can’t stop others from walking by us as we ponder whether we want green beans or broccoli. While wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, it helps when social distancing isn’t possible.
  4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, people need to feel safe. Right now, at the grocery store and at other public places, most people are wearing masks but many are not. It is causing a public dichotomy that is not healthy. There should be a rule, like in other states, that says that a cloth face covering must be worn in the store, and if a patron doesn’t have one on the manager can refuse service and ask that patron to leave. We can’t have people sneezing on the vegetables or cloths racks and we can’t have patrons confronting other patrons. A set rule will ward off that problem. Just like the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule, we can easily have the “no face covering, no service” rule.

Doug Friant
South Londonderry

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  1. Ken Bergmann says:

    I HATE wearing a mask. But I do. The rare times I have to go out to buy food.

  2. Bruce Frauman says:

    I agree with Doug, but would add that this is a work in progress. A week ago, I observed maybe half the people shopping at the Londonderry Village Market (as one example) were wearing masks and none of the staff. This week, I saw every staff member wearing a mask and our Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie estimates that 90% of people shopping in Londonderry are wearing masks. He attributes much of this change to the leadership at the state level.

    We are in this for the long haul, and whether we can maintain social distancting and mask wearing for months on end remains to be seen.

    Bill Gates estimated that a vaccine would be ready at the end of next year, at the earliest. Time will tell.

  3. Totally agree with this but sadly a lot of the cashiers and store workers aren’t wearing masks. it should be made mandatory for employee’s as well as consumers