From the 19th of July, wearing a face covering will become a personal choice in England. People will still be encouraged to be wear them, particularly on public transport, but for now it seems it will not be a legal requirement and no fines imposed if they are not worn. Other areas of the UK have their own guidelines, with Scotland stating that restrictions will be eased but face coverings will still be required.
Can the public be trusted to use their personal judgement?
Making face masks a personal choice returns people's autonomy to them, as they have the freedom to choose whether they want to cover their face and protect themselves and others from potential risk. We will now relying on people being sensible, trusting them to put their mask on if they are in a crowded environment. Do you think this is a good idea? Can people be trusted to do this, or are they simply tired of wearing masks? Is it still too early to make masks optional?
Wearing masks in a medical setting
Patients and doctors will continue to wear masks in a clinical setting. This presents many problems to the doctor-patient relationship. Can you think of any? Why is it important to read a patients body language and facial expressions in a hospital? What kinds of patients are alienated the most with the use of masks? Consider deaf or hard-of-hearing patients who rely on lip reading, or patients who may speak a different language. How may you resolve these communication problems as a doctor?
Author: Iqra Ali
Editor: Latifa Haque