Tao Writer (April 17, 1948 -)
While living in Cuenca I would occasionally see people wearing face masks. That was long before CoVid-19 came into our lives. The masks were used to prevent the inhaling of bus and car fumes while walking. I carried a handkerchief to cover my nose and mouth when a bus approached or I would hold my breath until it passed by. Some also wore masks when a local volcano erupted and the city received an ash index warning or if they had lung issues, but wearing a mask was the exception then. Today it is the rule. Everyone who goes outside is required to wear a mask. No exceptions unless you wish to receive a $100 fine. Bank tellers, drug store employees, grocery store clerks are all required to wear masks and gloves.
A few days before the new restrictions came into place, I went to one of my favorite restaurants for breakfast. They sprayed and wiped my table with alcohol, before it was a damp cloth most likely soaked in the kitchen dish water. When the waitress came for my order, she was wearing a face mask and latex gloves. I remember thinking it was a good practice for people in the food service business. Many of the cooks and food servers at the local eateries only wear a hairnet, if even that, no gloves or masks. When the restaurants are permitted to reopen, I believe a new norm will have been established. Cultures are changed by necessity, war and pandemics.
It is not easy to alter lifelong practices like the kiss on the cheek, hugging or the shaking of hands. They are ingrained in the customs and culture of people the world over. The simple answer is it depends upon whether you wish to live or face possible death, alone in a plastic room, unable to breathe on your own, hooked up to a ventilator, unable to have visitors or say goodbye to your loved ones, no one to hold your hand or give your comfort, all alone to face death. This CoVid-19 crisis will lead to many new norms, but so many lives will be sacrificed in exchange.