please empty your brain below

Sorry if I've missed something but I'm not sure how I should respond to question 2 if I'm not currently wearing a mask. Maybe an N/A option can be added?

(I'm not currently wearing a mask but would do so if told to or if I see research/evidence confirming that there's a significant benefit.)

I took that as "what would be your motivation...."

Q4 - I answered 4, but as mask wearing is still in the minority round here, I tend to notice those who do, rather than do not, wear them.
Ditto Timbo.
Being in a small town at the edge of Greater Manchester, masks still uncommon here. But taking to friends in London the big problem they have is that masks make many of the wearers think they are invincible and some of them stop distancing. If they are to make them compulsory there needs to be a huge education campaign on them to point out that the average homemade mask isn't going to keep you safe - but to try and stop you spreading it.
Q3. Scientists say "unproven". Maybe so, but the infection rates in countries that are wearing masks often have significantly lower infections than the non wearers.
I had to don a mask before going through Hanoi airport. Their infections are low, and VN was one of the first to declare a Covid case.
Just because something is not proven does not mean that common sense should prevale.
I entered "0" for everything other than the first option as I'm not qualified to answer all the other questions.

BBC's More Or Less covered some of the theories about mask wearing:
I'm in Germany - from this morning masks are compulsory on public transport and in shops.
On 'the science'... the WHO and others say its not proven, but the smart cookies on this (particularly Nassim Taleb and Zeynep Tufecki) seem to be way ahead, and are pointing to cases like the Czech Republic and hospitals in America which have mandated masks and dropped infections as a result. So I'd say wisdom is running ahead of the handful of not-very-informative peer-reviewed studies.

On noticing mask wearing by others, the most ridiculous thing I see at the moment is vans full of police officers not in masks hassling people for sitting down on their own in a park...
I agree with Timbo - it is seeing someone wearing one that stands out, albeit not as dramatically as pre-crisis. I am working from home in a town outside London and only go to the shops once or twice a week.
As with Jeremy, for those of us living abroad No. 2 is missing an option for "it is required by law".
My main concern about masks is the psychology of them. If you wear something that is designed to give you protection (as masks are - even if at this present time there is also the idea of protecting others) then it is inevitable that you will relax (if only on a subconscious level) regarding other things, such as distancing or the number of times you go out to buy food, etc.

Comparisons with other countries are difficult. In assessing the worth of masks, one has to also take into account differences in other measures taken, how compliant the populations are and how widespread the infection is.
Been thinking about this a lot lately & still uncertain. I don’t have enough facts to make good decisions. Well done DG for teasing us with the right questions:)
Not many people wearing masks in my medium sized city. Amazed at the number of people who don't cover their nose. Some not even covering their mouth!

Also with couples generally only one wearing a mask if any.
as we pass 60 responses (thanks!)

On the fourth question it's currently a fairly clear win for option 5.

No other option has over 50% of your votes.
There is no option for 'this whole mask thing completely freaks me out so I won't leave home at all'.
There are 15,625 possible outcomes yet there have already been duplicates.
I went for a 0 in answer to Question 2.

In the absence of any clear facts I have come to the conclusion that mask wearing maybe just a distraction. Will it make people over confident in there behaviour leading to closer contact & transmission? Are you wearing one to avoid infection or avoid infecting? If you are symptomatic you should not be outside anyway. Receiving infection through the eyes is apparently possible so why is not goggle wearing a requirement as well? And if your mask & goggles don't fit properly then why bother?
There are two kinds of masks: those that health professionals wear to protect them against their patients; and those that you (the public) wear to protect everyone else against you. Your coughs and sneezes really can spread diseases without your mask. It is very unsocial and selfish to risk spreading the virus by not wearing your mask.
I agree with timbo and David C. Yesterday I walked to the town centre and back, must have seen 25 to 30 people but only 2 with masks. One of these was a pavement cyclist.
Here in HK, on January 23rd I noticed that most people were wearing masks while on the MTR and walking to/from the station. That pretty quickly rose to about 99% of people and has stayed like that since.
Everyone wears masks on city streets, even if nobody else is around, but most people take them off when hiking in country parks, even on busy trails where you can't keep your distance from others.
Over 100 votes in two hours, blimey

Most popular so far...
Q1: 2
Q2: 3
Q4: 5
Q6: 3

The closest battles are currently on questions three and five.
Question 2 was difficult to select a number but not as hard as 4. I notice people wearing masks, with the vast majority here not wearing masks and those who do are mostly of Asian, that is Chinese or South East Asian, heritage.
So many times when you see a couple or family out, only one is wearing a mask, which does suggest that a lot of people are wearing them for their own protection (older or less healthy members of the family)
masks...another symptom of the mass-hysteria and over-reaction gripping the country
This data set is going to be fascinating - although I do wonder what age/if you are a key worker/how often you come across other people - would show in the data...


I've always been jealous of the Japanese mentality of "I am sick, therefore I will wear a mask so I don't infect others" and wished we did that here. Those paper masks are to prevent your sneezes/sniffles spreading - not to stop you getting it from others...

Maybe in future we'll be like Japan/Taiwan etc - if you're sick, societal pressure will be "you wear a mask"!
I’ve gone for the closest fit, but some of the options just did not work for me very well or seemed too reductive. For example:

3. “The science” says quite a lot of things. Masks (face coverings) can clearly help to protect other people from you. They are less effective at protecting the wearer. The general public wearing masks diverts huge numbers from those who really need them. The general public don’t know how to put them on and off properly without contaminating their hands, some remove them to speak clearly (duh), and encourage people to touch their face more often without washing hands. And that is without considering the behavioural effects of “face armour” that makes the wearer feel invulnerable. But I suspect they can play a part in reducing R0 and will be part of the lockdown deescalation.

4. Like others, there are still more people in my area not wearing masks than those who are, so I more notice people who are wearing masks than those who aren’t.
I can't see any way out of the lockdown that does not involve (alongside contact-tracing and isolation) those with the virus large-scale mask-wearing in public.

The countries that have recent past experience of respiratory epidemics know this, and practice this.

I am frankly astounded as the level of hostility (while acknowledging, as a Brit, it is culturally alien and feels odd) being expressed towards mask-wearing in the UK, specifically, as well as the frankly inane nature of some of the arguments being presented against it ("they don't protect you" - that's not really the point, "if you wear one someone who needs on on the NHS front line won't have on" - that doesn't follow, there is a distinction between medical and non-medical grade masks, the public only require the latter, "people who wear masks think they are immune" - frankly close the Nudge Unit down).

It's odd: other countries in Europe really have got a grip on this. Not just the police wearing masks, but it's more or less impossible to see a picture of a politician in an Italian newspaper (up to the most senior level) not wearing one.

While the President of Slovakia seems to have set a trend of wearing fashionable masks (still effective, though) that match with her clothing.

Britain is, way, way behind the game on this and will continue to suffer as a result.
For question 5, what do I put for "My niece made me a mask and sent it it to me last week"?

I didn't buy it, didn't already have it, didn't make it...
Bet this stat does not start with a 1
Having only ever worn a mask for DIY and found it really unpleasant, what happens after you've sneezed in one? I'd struggle not to take it off to wipe it and my nose.
My number starts with a 1 and ends with a 2 and there are a lot of zeroes inbetween for 'in light of '1' the question doesn't apply'

But this doesn't mean I'm a selfish dangerous lunatic. It means I won't be going out until I can do so unconditionally.
My husband is very pro-mask on the grounds that it is only common sense to wear one. He did no science at school. He also wears the same one several days running on the grounds that some NHS staff wear one mask per shift and therefore eight outings equal one shift. I have worn a mask (mostly to shut him up) when out on our daily walk but as I also wear glasses I find they fog up and I can't see where I'm going. That makes it harder to leap into the road or a handy driveway in order to socially distance when a runner approaches at speed.
I get the feeling that answers fall into clusters according to people's age.
At first I found several questions difficult to answed, eg like solar penguin my mask was made for me. Then I just invented the rubric: if no answer exactly fits then choose the one which is nearest to your situation. That made it much easier.
The slogan of the American #Masks4all movement (?) is 'My wearing a mask protects you; your wearing a mask protects me'

If everyone wears a mask then every virus particle has to get through two: and if every mask cuts transmission through it by 50% (and hopefully it's more), that means the virus only has a 25% chance compared to no masks.
As the slogan has it, every little helps.
I find my mask difficult to put on. The area behind my earlobes is already overcrowded with two hearing aids and two spectacle arms. Donning has to be enterprised in the right order.
My main issue with ordinary simple fabric masks is you still get to breathe the same air, so no protection from others. Might limit some coughs and sneezes from self, but I usually sneeze several times in succession and the resulting maelstrom wouldn't be for the faint-hearted. Best to permanently carry a tissue, and a bag for the used ones.
A mask may prevent you passing the virus on, or inhaling it directly, but it doesn't prevent the virus settling on your clothes. And you can still carry the virus even if you yourself are immune. So a mask can help stop the spread, but may make some wearers feel safer than they are.
I've only recently started wearing a mask when shopping in the supermarket.

Only bought some in the first place in case they introduced the mandatory wearing of them when we're allowed to use public transport again.
Had to enter 0 for Q1 because it's too simplistic. I now have groceries and prescriptions delivered, so going out has been mostly for exercise where I'm not near anyone: I don't wear a mask as it would be pointless and only fog up my specs.

However, for hospital appointments I certainly do wear one, albeit an ancient 3M dust protection one that I dug out and bunged through the washing machine.

It has to be better than nothing in terms of protecting medical staff, and it would seem negligent and careless not to wear it. Even a flimsy B&Q dust shield would show willingness.
As we hit 200 votes

Most popular so far...
Q1: 2
Q2: 3
Q3: either 2 or 3
Q4: 5
Q5: 3
Q6: 3
For question 2 (Motivation) I wanted to put 'Wear one so that others feel safe'.
I couldn't find a way to register my answers. Please how do you do it?

dg writes: The comments box here.
I think I'd have more faith in the effectiveness of masks if they hadn't until recently been mostly worn in the part of the world where this virus first got a hold. Not scientific I know, but it just gives the underlying feeling that it's all a bit futile.
I tried to be helpful and respond to this request but found myself flummoxed by the preamble to Question 1 !
"are you wearing a mask when you go out ?"
I am age 88 and therefore presumably in the band of 'older people' considered more vulnerable.
I therefore was able to re-order my lifestyle so I will not be "going out" ( i.e. of the house ) until all this is really over ( even if this takes several years of my remaining lifetime )
Sorry, but I cannot truthfully answer most of your questions.
Obviously virus particles can pass through a mask. Indeed they are so tiny that they can pass through nearly all filters - that is how they were first discovered and distinguished from bacteria.
But it seems that these ones mostly hitch a ride on liquid droplets. So restricting dispersal of these droplets may be worthwhile.
As I hope today's post proves, Malcolm, there's no such thing as 'obviously'.
The comments provide interesting contrast between those who follow the science and those who rely on their instincts (sometimes called common sense). I suspect the latter predominate in the general population because science is not a popular subject in the UK.
Answered 5 for Q4, but in reality I do notice when people are wearing masks, just like timbo. I go further though, and actively get annoyed at it, since it seems possible that masks could be a danger. Both in terms of complacency, but also risk of misuse. Mask disposal/handling is something you have to be very careful with, for instance.

I also worry that it'll become permanently part of our culture. I'm massively freaked out by people wearing balaclavas, the thought of something similar becoming the norm (or even forced upon us by the government) is a bit terrifying.
If we're eventually told we have to wear them then I will comply. But it will mean I go out a lot less than I do now as it'll feel more of a hassle and less comfortable. That means perhaps more one-off big supermarket shops rather than the smaller local deli shop that I do now even though that place feels an easier place to socially distance. And no daily exercise which I'm appreciating much more for mental health than physical health reasons
I’ve noticed a tendency for people who wear masks to fail to maintain 2m distances to others who don’t. Which shows a misunderstanding of their primary purpose, outside health settings, which is to lower the risk of the wearer spreading the virus.
I think it odd that runners don’t seem to wear masks, when a lot of them seem to run with mouths open.
I expect masks will become a requirement where it’s not possible to maintain a minimum 2m distance.
I'm intrigued that you chose to make Q4 'what do you think of those not wearing masks?' rather than 'what do you think of those wearing masks?' Did you choose that wording because in your neck of the woods a majority of people wear a mask when they are outdoors? In my outer London suburb only a minority wear masks – perhaps 10-20%.
I don't think it's as straightforward as 'science vs. common sense'. Most common sense is based on some understanding of science - albeit possibly old or subsonscious. Even our 'instincts' are probably informed on some level by things we've learnt. And as this issue demonstrates, there is no such thing as 'the' science singular.
DG, you've just unintentionally invented the new "" on Tinder.

Find someone with the same 6 digit answer as you! [as i have...] and it's likely that you'll agree with them politcally, and a whole bunch of other things too.

Fancy putting some of us in touch? hee hee.
My understanding is that the basic mask that just covers your nose and mouth and hooks around your ears just protects others from 'your germs' whereas full PPE (which includes the eye covering) is protecting medical staff from the patient as well as vice versa.

So on public transport its probably a good idea for everyone to wear a basic mask that covers nose and mouth, on the understanding that removing it means you put your contaminated hands near the areas you are trying to protect in order to remove it. I thought the person I saw wearing a motorbike helmet may have resolved several issues.
Wore my mask for my supermarket shop this morning, but that's the only time I wear it at the moment.

These valiant key workers who work there run the gauntlet every day; they wear masks so I feel the least I can do in return is to wear one as well, even though it might be seen as a token gesture of support.

If wearing them in shops were made mandatory, and it made staff feel more at ease, then it would be worth it.
142511 I would have used 0 had there been options other than the ones listed as answering 1 to the first question makes some of the others almost impossible to answer as unless medical grade masks they are virtually useless to wear

Wear a mask and come shake my hand!
1. I'm with the other Martin: many people in masks don't social distance while shopping at a supermarket.

2. wearing a mask means more protection if accidentally touching your face.
Re question 3, I can believe both "The science says 'unproven'" AND (ie yet) "It can't hurt to wear one".
In fact, I'd have thought a lot of people would indeed have a foot in each of these camps.
I bought some masks from eBay recently but I have no intention of wearing them until we are told to. As a hearing aid and glasses user the extra strings round my earlobes will be decidedly uncomfortable. I tend not to sneeze when outside anyway so they have little benefit.
"the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks."
(latest WHO guidance, 6th April)
"...use of masks by healthy people...". But we should not all assume we are healthy, i.e. are not carriers of, or incubating, this virus – either ourselves or all the other people we are near. So when I nip round to the small Co-op every three or four days to get milk and bread, I wear a simple mask. It is not 100% proof, but it may be reducing the risk, to others or to myself, because I can not just assume we are all healthy.

Medical evidence from a Chinese guy early on (sorry I have lost the quote) stated that 1 micron virus particles tend to aggregate and therefore many get 'stuck' even in the 3 or 5 micron gaps in a mask, reducing risk by up to 80% in a test. So, why not wear one if it reduces the odds? Why refuse to reduce odds?

OK it is annoying to wear a mask. I wear glasses and, yes, they steam up a bit. I wait to read a label sometimes. I wear thin gloves. To reduce the odds (advice from ex-theatre nurse cousin). I use a contactless card. I disinfect goods on arriving home and wash my hands, yes, all that. I am 75, I want to reduce odds, both ways.

People in the shop give way, even if they are wearing a mask. It's so simple. People wearing masks who then do not keep their distance – they would be morons then.
The time scale is long. Lots more to find out yet. Things will not get back to where they were, look at History.
Results worth its own post I'd have hoped.

dg writes: Sorry if 450 words isn't enough.
But what was *your* number DG?
I'm gutted that yesterday was one of the very rare occasions I missed reading this blog!

It's been thoroughly interesting reading, but what worries me perhaps more is amount of latex gloves I've seen littering the pavements, and what effect all these disposed of masks and gloves are going to have on the environment.
Agree with Cornish Cockney. In the middle of nowhere, but with lots of deliveries/blue latex gloves on delivery driver hands, I had to prise a blue glove out of the mouth of a sheep a couple of days ago.
That is very worrying Blue Witch.
six weeks later

From Monday 15th June it'll be compulsory to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth on public transport.
I too am in Germany. Masks have been compulsory on public transport and in retail outlets and malls for some months now.

Im surprised and appalled that this still appears not to be the case in UK.

No wonder UK and US have the worst covid infection rates.

dg writes: Don't be appalled, Kevin. You're reading a post that's four months old.

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