Home News The Differing International Response To The Pandemic And Face Coverings

The Differing International Response To The Pandemic And Face Coverings

From woollen hand-knit masks to those made from black-and-white diamonds costing over $1.5m, this “defence” against the coronavirus has become a point of contention in countries across the world.

Various governments have taken it upon themselves to abandon work from home guidance and 2m social distancing, replacing them with strict mask-wearing guidelines. In the USA, there seems to be a power struggle between the federal administration under POTUS Donald J. Trump and the states with leftist leadership.

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at an “An Address to Young Americans” event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
Picture by: Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Media outlets have been quick to condemn any gatherings that are not organised by Antifa or Black Lives Matter. Those condemned include any conservative political rallies, in-person voting, church gatherings or social ceremonies; exemptions are provided, of course, for “peaceful protests”, prompting the President to designate his rallies of frustrated working-class people just that.

Anders Tegnell during the daily press conference outside the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Photo by: Frankie Fouganthin. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

A few countries like Sweden and Japan have overcome the crisis through public common sense and co-operative consideration, without a draconian imposition of hefty fines for not wearing masks or stepping out during a “lockdown” curfew. While in Japan masks are a way of life, almost a part of the outfit in modern culture, Sweden has just used social distancing and both countries have seemingly passed through this pandemic while escaping the paranoia, yet still protecting personal bodily autonomy and broader freedoms.

Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister, and Katsunobu Katō, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, attended a meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Chiyoda Ward, Tōkyō Metropolis on April 7, 2020. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0

In the UK, England has imposed up to £100 in fines and Scottish stores bluntly refuse to sell you a pint of milk in some cases, as claimed by a nursing student in Edinburgh, after a long work shift.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, this reporter was suddenly refused a doctor’s appointment for regular post-surgical care unless “… you find a mask in 10 minutes or miss your appointment”. None of the stores in the vicinity had a supply and the surgery refused to be helpful in this regard. Put simply, if the coronavirus doesn’t kill you because of the lack of masks, a lack of medical attention for all other conditions quite possibly might.

First Minister Carwyn Jones. Wales Grand Slam Celebration, Senedd 19 March 2012 / Carwyn Jones, y Prif Weinidog. Dathliadau Camp Lawn Cymru, Senedd 19 Mawrth 2012
Photo by: National Assembly for Wales. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

According to an article in the BBC, however, the Welsh First Minister has remained firm that face coverings for shopping or other activities will not be happening in Wales, due to a “marginal public health case”, saying it is “not sustainable in the long term”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin in Calais on July 12 – Flickr Number 10 – Picture By Andrew Parsons – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)