We’ve been wearing masks for two years, and we’re sure everyone’s sick of it! Outside Jamaica we’ve seen people protest, sometimes violently, against wearing masks. But few deny that they protect us and others from the Coronavirus and limits spread of the infection. Having it on for most of the day, however, is very exhausting. Now, let’s be clear, this is NOT, repeat NOT, an invitation to stop wearing masks because we still need to be safe.

But since this blog space is safe to air issues, we can tackle touchy topics as a way of learning from each other and getting support in our struggles. So, we asked some people in New Kingston to share their vexations with wearing a mask for most of the day and here is what they told us.

Perhaps the most common complaint about wearing a mask is that when material covers our mouth and nose breathing can be difficult. One person’s response was that “People are supposed to breathe in oxygen …  and when yuh have on the mask is like you breathing in the same thing over and over and over and that’s not good for you… if me neva have to wear it me wouldn’t wear it.”
Others complained that the heat generated by the mask is irritating and has adverse effects on one's skin. “Most time when you have on the mask too long and it’s in the heat, your face starts to break out. It’s 50 /50 with me… it’s good [to have it on] especially when people are coughing and sneezing.” We should be grateful that despite his complaints this individual still sees the importance of wearing a face mask.

Some people complained about their ears being irritated by the mask straps gripping their ears. Glasses wearers complained that their lenses getting fogged up with the exhalation traveling up the mask to their eyes. A few said having to wear it all the time is just tedious, especially not being able to enter stores without a mask, go for a walk, or simply be in public.

On the other hand, several people had no serious misgivings about wearing masks on a daily basis. One said: "[I] don’t really have an issue with the mask, I only wear it when I come on the road.” When asked if he would have a problem if he had to leave his house more frequently, he stated: “No, because safety measures are the best policy.” Of course, we appreciate that individual’s commitment to the health protocols, and give him a big Panmedia Salute.

Face masks are likely to be with us a bit longer because Covid-19 is still present and we need to protect ourselves and others. Whether we like it or not, we have to hold on for a little longer and pray we return to a mask-free reality soon. In the meantime, let us do our part to keep our people safe.