With the restrictions governments have put in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am not sure why masks have become such a cultural flashpoint. Governments have implemented economic lockdowns and “stay at home” orders, closed schools, businesses, restaurants, offices and churches, restricted where people can work, shop and dine out, restricted access to other medical procedures and banned or strictly restricted the ability to go to theaters, concerts or sports games. These have been much more of an imposition on our lifestyle than wearing a face mask for an hour or two.
So now we are seeing protests where people are burning face masks, and some pundits are calling for mass civil disobedience of mask orders. We are seeing some conservatives online equating mask wearing with effeminacy. Meanwhile, I am sitting here thinking: “Really?”
Some states are being praised for lifting their mask mandate or never implementing one in the first place. However, even if your state does not have a mask mandate, you are still legally required to wear a mask in an establishment that mandates wearing a mask. Businesses have the right to set policies for their property, and customers who refuse to comply can be asked to leave. If they refuse, they are trespassing. As conservatives, we should respect the private property rights of these businesses.
Look, I get it. Needing to remember to bring a face covering with you is annoying, as is returning to your car when you forget to bring it into the store. But we should be thinking about others, not just our own needs. Wearing a mask does make it less likely to transmit a respiratory virus like COVID-19 or influenza to others. Given that a large percentage of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic and that asymptomatic transmission does happen, can we love our neighbors enough to put up with inconvenience and irritation? Can we respect the authority God has placed over us for this small thing? Please, just wear the mask.