I Know You Should Wear a Mask, but WHEN Do You Wear a Mask?

Yesterday I headed with the family off to the beach for some much-needed relaxation and not-in-my-home-office-on-a-Zoom-meeting-ness. We drove down to Old Orchard Beach, stopping to pick up some Chipotle on the way and then getting some ice cream afterward. It was a lovely day. Probably about 80 degrees at the beach, though the water was much colder. (55 degrees, according to my Google search.)

I had worried ahead of time that it would be packed, but it was anything but. Usually there’s a road right by the beach that I drop the fam off at, and then I drive around hunting for a place to park for free. Yesterday, there were spaces right on that road. We parked 20 feet away from the boardwalk access. On the beach itself, I think the closest I got to people was about ten feet when we were leaving. A group had set up camp right by the boardwalk, so we had to walk by them to get to the car. Other than that, people were typically around 50-100 feet away. No one was wearing masks, but I didn’t really feel like anyone needed to.

That said, in hind sight, I do wonder if I should have been wearing a mask the whole time. After the beach when we got ice cream, we remembered only Denisa had brought a mask. We were still outside, and we still stayed 6 feet away from others, but I felt very hypocritical right then, realizing I had become that which I was speaking out against. It wasn’t really intentional, but that doesn’t matter.

I think the times the “Wear a Mask” rule is going to be most effective is when it’s clear and clean cut. “If you’re outside your house or office (or in your office with the door open) wear a mask” is much easier to remember than some complicated formula. I’ve seen a lot of chatter over when you need to have one on and when you don’t. How close you can be and be safe. Outside vs. inside. Windy vs. calm. You name it. As long as the rules are that squishy, people are going to end up like me: willing to follow the rules, but forgetful of what they’re supposed to be, and unprepared when it’s necessary. Even a rule that said “you must have a mask with you when out in public, even if you don’t need to have it on at the moment” would be better than nothing. Sort of like the life jacket law for adults in a boat in Maine. That way you have it there, and when you do find yourself in a situation where you need it, you have it.

Judging by the numbers coming out of some states (I’m looking at you, Florida, Texas, and Arizona, but there are other states out there with worrisome trends as well), this mask rule is going to become more and more important, especially if we’re dead set on opening up full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

I think many people want to do the right thing. They just have a hard time knowing what the right thing is right now.


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