It used to be the only place you could go topless without getting arrested was on a secluded beach, or up on the funnel deck of a Carnival cruise ship. The funnel deck topless sunbathing is a thing of the past, but there is a new topless coming soon and you won’t have to travel to a secluded beach to do it. All you’ll have to do is travel. Somewhere. Anywhere. The new topless coming soon is…no face mask!
OK that was a stretch. The mandate requiring us to wear masks on public transportation conveyances like airplanes, trains, and buses, and in public transportation hubs like airports and train stations, expires on April 18th. It has been renewed on a regular basis since it was originally enacted, but this time things are shaping up to be different. This time it looks like the government may finally allow us to travel topless…as in without face masks.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not opposed to masks. Quite the contrary. A high quality mask like an N95, worn properly, works. Before COVID, anytime Janet and I traveled one or both of us invariably came home sick. Since we started masking up when we travel, we haven’t. That’s pretty compelling.
Cruise ships have already ditched the mask mandates as have some European airlines, the former because vaccines are required for most cruisers, the latter because they just don’t see the point. Why bother trying to enforce a regulation for the good of all when a persistent few who oppose the rules insist on engaging in passive aggressive defiance behaviors? Wearing masks as a chin diaper, pulling it up whenever a member of the flight crew approaches only to yank it back down once they’ve walked past defeats the purpose. Such behavior has made enforcement impossible, so some European airlines are no longer bothering to try. They aren’t going back either, not unless we face another wave of a highly contagious new COVID variant that is more deadly than what is currently out there.
Momentum is building for the U.S. Government to move away from mandating masks on public transportation, and this may be the month they take action. The lobbying from throughout the travel industry has been heavy and relentless…mask mandates are costing them business…and the public, like Europe, is just tired. Tired of COVID. Tired of wearing masks. Tired of the drama.
Though no official announcement has been made, all signaling from the administration points to the mask mandate for public transportation shifting from masks “required” to masks “highly recommended but optional,” and an announcement could come any time as April 18th approaches.
It might make you feel better about traveling whenever the government does eliminate the masking requirement for public transportation, but it certainly won’t make traveling any safer. It just puts the onus on you to decide whether to wear a face mask based on your personal risk tolerance rather than a government mandate.
It would be nice if we lived in a world when a common sense measure like wearing a face mask, which is demonstrably effective at limiting the spread not just of COVID but a whole range of upper respiratory diseases, would be universally accepted. We don’t live in that world. So…I’ll keep my supply of N95 masks handy whenever I travel, and when it makes sense to mask up, I will.