Today I was rather surprised to see a member of M&S staff with no mask, but the bigger issue is that he appeared to have no concept of social distancing.
What really shocked me was not just the lack of mask (see below re exemptions), but the total lack of any social distancing.
I witnessed him bumping in to other members of staff. At one point, whilst waiting at the till I suddenly realised he was right next to me and I had to step back.
It is not clear what he was supposed to be doing - he seemed to be literally aimlessly wandering around bumping in to people - almost trying to infect as many as possible - well that is how it seemed to me.
Of course, the immediate answer from anyone is "he could be exempt". There are two main reasons for this - medical condition, and severe distress.
I find it hard to imagine a medical condition where the wearing of a mask, or even a simple clear visor, causes a clinical effect which does not also make you a MASSIVE risk for COVID, so much so that you would obviously be sheltering / isolating at home all year. If there is such a condition, please educate me. But someone that has adverse clinic effect to a face visor will really have a problem with an oxygen mask or a ventilator.
However, the other reason, and far more likely to encounter in the wild, I am sure, is distress / anxiety. I know someone that has significant distress wearing a mask, thankfully she is OK wearing a visor (I know they are not as good, but at least they block spray from your mouth going directly to the person in front of you, and they meet the legal requirements). I'd rather people wear a proper mask obviously.
There are people, in the middle of a pandemic, who find encountering others with no mask in a shop a cause of distress and anxiety. So morally, ethically, why does the mask wearers distress and anxiety trump that of those around them? What is the balance here for the law?
I am no expert on ethics, but that is a serious question. Someone explain it to me.
There are government recommended badges saying you are exempt. Now, there is a whole issue with "having to declare that you are disabled". I fully understand that. But if you are wandering around a shop with no mask you are blatantly declaring that you are "disabled, or a total dick". The badge at least just declares you "disabled". Even so, THE VIRUS DOES NOT CARE THAT YOU ARE EXEMPT!
The other issue, taking the fact that some people are genuinely exempt under current law, is the policy of his employer.
As an employer myself, if one of my staff was genuinely exempt from wearing ALL types of face covering allowed, I would not have them working where they are in the same room as other staff or public. I would have them working from home, working alone, on sick leave, or furloughed. In fact I think we'd do that if they simply could not wear a proper mask. I would never want to risk one of my staff infecting someone whilst working for me. THE VIRUS DOES NOT CARE THAT YOU ARE EXEMPT!
Indeed, I am surprised HSE don't have that exact policy for employers.
So M&S, don't you have any policy on this?
Hello again - I've spoken to the Store Manager and they've confirmed that my colleague is exempt from wearing a mask and wears a Sunflower Lanyard. Thanks, Donna.— M&S (@marksandspencer) January 16, 2021
I am at a loss. They totally ignored that he was not keeping any distance. If I had complained about someone *with* a mask not keeping their distance then would they have been so dismissive.
It is like they think that a Sunflower Lanyard is magic - giving the wearer total immunity to any rules and the virus itself. That is scary.
It’s like...— 𝖱𝖾𝗏𝖪 (@TheRealRevK) January 16, 2021
“Why is that guy randomly throwing knives? One nearly hit me!”
“Ah, did you not see the sunflower lanyard? He’s exempt. Not throwing knives causes him severe distress”
“Yes but throwing knives could literally kill someone, fuck distress”
The more I think about the mask exemption, the more I think the government have got it wrong. Some with disabilities seem to agree...
As someone who for years lived with a very debilitating anxiety based condition (agoraphobia) I am very suspicious that most of this concern for sufferers is real. Nobody was interested in any sort of concession to my anxiety then, a lot suddenly do now it’s about masks.— Sam "Just Mopman" Pizzey (@mopman) January 16, 2021
Speaking as someone who's both autistic & has anxiety bad enough that even the DWP recognises it without going to tribunal:— Polarity♒️🏳️⚧️ (@PoPlaysGames) January 16, 2021
If they aren't acting like they wish they COULD wear a mask, they are DEFINITELY faking it.
There's NO WAY a genuinely disabled person would get close.
And to be clear, if the government did not have the mask exemption (which would make it way clearer for shops properly banning people), they would have to have found other ways to support those few with genuine reasons not to wear one. But that would have been way better and clearer and safer for all.