by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
You probably have endured, and rolled your eyes at, the ridiculous experience of being made to wear a mask when walking into a restaurant, and then being permitted to remove it once you are seated. The silliness of this protocol intensifies in direct proportion to the crowdedness of the restaurant. Over the weekend, we went out for breakfast (we are traveling for a short vacation) at one of those very popular restaurants where patrons are seated very nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, and, because we are in a ski town, the waiters were obliged to step over and around all sorts of jackets and hats and sporting goods, with all the inevitable bumping into and brushing up against that goes along with that. Imagine boarding one of those insanely crowded Indian passenger trains but being required to wear a face mask while walking across the platform.
I tend toward the conservative and risk-averse side when it comes to anti-Covid measures, but this sort of thing is thoroughly asinine. I can buy a story in which at certain times public places have to be closed for reasons of public health, but it is very difficult to accept as convincing a story in which unmasked diners who are practically sitting in one another’s laps have to be defended from the threat of potential Covid carriers walking from the door to a table who are if anything farther away from the other diners when crossing the room than they are when seated. The same holds true of air travel: The mask-up/mask-down routine is largely ceremonial. I could accept the claim that it is too dangerous to fly at all or that it is too dangerous to allow passengers to be unmasked in the cabin, but I cannot take seriously the claim that it is too dangerous to allow passengers to be unmasked in the cabin unless there is a Bloody Mary involved, or one of those little Biscoff cookies.