Opinion Editorial

Ready to unmask? Not ready? You do you.

I welcomed the news that Massachusetts would be fully open as of May 29. I am ready. However, I’m feeling that unmasking should be more of an event. I mean, it wasn’t quite an unmasking, but Tony Stark had a big reaction when he revealed he was Iron Man. Clark Kent took off his glasses and — poof! – everyone knew he was Superman. But us normal, fully vaccinated folks can quietly remove our masks in less than a week. And I think it will be the biggest, most exciting unmasking of all – even bigger than when the Scooby Doo crew of “meddling kids” removed the monster masks to reveal a regular human at the end of each episode.

For me, wearing masks this past long, long year is exactly the opposite of these superhero type of reveals. Those humans who wore the masks are the heroes, always.

Last spring, nurses, CNAs, doctors and all healthcare staff donned masks to provide what patients needed as safely as possible. It’s true that many people who work in healthcare are used to masks and have been wearing them for, well, pretty much forever I suppose.

Those who work in retail stores masked up for the first time so they could provide a healthier environment for citizens who, despite the pandemic, still needed food, clothing, new tires and, of course, toilet paper.

Wearing a mask quickly became the norm in all work sectors and all public spaces. So did staying at least six feet apart. I’m a hugger when it comes to family and close friends, but beyond that, I’m not big on being touched so I wasn’t sad about that.

For many who believe COVID-19 is a hoax or a way for government to track and control people, wearing a mask was an unnecessary infringement on their rights.  For most people, it was a necessary inconvenience. Whichever category you fall into, I appreciate everyone who did wear a mask and do their part to keep the spread as minimal as possible. Whether you wore it begrudgingly or not, thank you for wearing one.

I certainly think some of the face covering orders were, well, confusing at times. Even now, my kids can go outside during school and eat and play without a mask and be socially distant “when feasible,” but once inside they have to wear masks even though they can now share objects in the classroom and have a mask break within the classroom. That one makes no sense to me.

When Gov. Baker announced that industry COVID-19 restrictions – including the mask requirement and capacity limits – would be lifted May 29, there was clearly a continued divide: many folks cheered while others said “nope.”

I will unmask, mostly. At this point, I could see myself continuing to wear one in crowded indoor spaces or when around people I know have compromised health. I still plan to sanitize and wash my hands and do my part. I also believe that these practices kept the flu and colds away from my home this year and that does not make me sad.

As we embark on the most “normal” activities of the past 15 months, I hope everyone will show kindness toward others. Excited to unmask? Take it off! Compromised health, not vaccinated or just not ready? Wear your mask! And no matter what you choose, it is an individual choice everyone must make for themselves and that should be respected by all.

Can’t wait to see familiar faces again soon!


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