Face mask

Most-read 2020: The problem with pretty floral face masks

We’re closing 2020 by republishing our ten most-read articles of the year. Here’s No. 2: Lara Prendergast on face masks Now that we must all wear face masks, it is hardly surprising that they have started to become a fashion accessory. An Israeli jeweller has created a gold and diamond-encrusted mask that is said to be worth $1.5 million. According to the designer, the man who commissioned the extravagant mask — which weighs nearly 100 times as much as a typical surgical mask — had two demands: that it be completed by the end of the year and that it be the most expensive mask in the world. Diamond-encrusted face

Sweden changes advice on facemasks

Big news in Sweden this afternoon where Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister, has just tightened Covid-19 restrictions. Still no lockdown, but there’s now a rule of four for restaurants (it had previously been six) and an 8pm curfew on sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants (it had been 10pm). A cap is to be placed on numbers in shops, gyms and swimming pools: universities and sixth-forms will switch to remote learning until 24 January. But beyond that there are no new laws (or restrictions for private property). Löfven said he still has faith that Swedes will respond to his voluntary approach. ‘I hope and believe that everyone in Sweden

Was the maskless man in my carriage dying of Covid?

A man without a mask appeared to be dying of Covid, or something quite like it, on the London to Guildford train. Hunched double in his seat across the aisle, he groaned as he coughed, gasped as he sneezed, and sniffed as a way of clearing the mess because he hadn’t got a tissue. Sans mask, sans handkerchief he spluttered and spattered. His capacity to ignore my stare was magnificent. I’m not a tolerant person, and when someone is sneezing at me during what is supposed to be a pandemic I cannot muster generosity. Sitting on the worn, red upholstery of the 1453 South Western train service from Waterloo, I

Tory MP: masks are a ‘monstrous’ imposition

The government has announced that wearing face masks while shopping will become mandatory from 27 July. It’s fair to say though that some Conservative backbenchers aren’t best pleased about the decision. ‘Nothing would make me less likely to go shopping than the thought of having to mask up’, Tory MP Desmond Swayne rallied in the House of Commons today. The MP for New Forest West argued that this is a ‘monstrous imposition against myself and a number of outraged and reluctant constituents’. (It’s not clear whether Swayne’s outrage applies to all face coverings: the MP has happily admitted to wearing blackface at a fancy-dress party in the past.) The Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Do face masks work? A note on the evidence

Should we, or should we not be compelled to wear face masks during a virus epidemic? It sounds a simple enough question. Indeed the answer seems so obvious to many, including the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, that they are questioning why this measure is not already mandatory. Surgeons wear them; they filter the air we breathe; viruses are in the air; let’s get everybody wearing them. Other countries have, so they must be helpful. It seems so straightforward. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that, and the obvious becomes less obvious the more you look at it. ‘Following the science’ often feels like chasing a receding target, which throws