Column: The Covid masquerade

Catherine Fieschi finds mandatory face coverings are dividing the world

The World Today
Published 1 October 2020 Updated 8 February 2021 2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

No doubt there is a difference between gliding through the Palazzo Pisani Moretta in Venice and donning one’s blue surgical mask for a spin on the Northern Line. But there is also an irony in the fact that a symbol of carnival, irreverence and mischief should have its fate so upended as to become – for the perennially suspicious and those breezily dismissive of the virus – a symbol of manipulation by the ‘deep state’ and of capitulation by the weak-willed.

The widespread unease provoked by recommendations to wear masks serves as a useful lens through which to examine the varieties of mistrust that plague our polities. Some argue that they find them uncomfortable; others are sceptical about their efficacy. Others still view them as instruments of government oppression.

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