When CM Uddhav Thackeray announced the marks are not mandatory, my heart stopped beating. Just like the demonetisation announcement by Modi. I had dedicated one full wardrobe to designer masks and spent a lot of money on these vast ranges of masks. Mask was a gigantic business for vendors, small-time tailors, and merchandisers. Wearing no mask was also revenue collection for BMC and cops on vigilance. The suddenly increased stress on the use of face masks because of the COVID pandemic had raised the demand for the masks in the country. As a result, several garment companies in Maharashtra manufactured designer face masks on a large scale, for marriages to festivals. When the rules of wearing masks relaxed many small-time business groups came in casualty because the stock of masks will have no buyers. If you roam around Mumbai markets, you will see many mask sellers on the road. Masks were their source of income.
All garment shops have also stocked matching masks as the masks have become an important wardrobe accessory these days. That the Maharashtra government has made it an offence to not wear a mask in public places, charging fines from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000 per violation, has also resulted in an increased demand for face masks. During the wedding season, fashionable and designer masks have come into vogue among women. Many tailors switched to mask stitching from main garments. There are hundreds of start-up companies in the state who were mask makers and suppliers. Sudden relaxation in rules will cause a lot of inconvenience to these businesses.
Why aren’t more people asking the only question that matters? Why is anyone still being allowed to mandate anything – when two years have gone by and that is enough time (and then some) to convene all the legislatures? It does not matter what the merits of a mandate are: a mandate is to be used only when necessary and, under Constitutional law, only for as long as it is unavoidable for you to have to keep doing so. Masks don’t work, anyway. We were fully vaccinated, yet continued to wear a mask in public. The whole mess with this pandemic and the misinformation and really fear-mongering by the democrats and their allies in the Marxist press, social media oligarchs, billionaires, titans of industry and business, was a strategy they employed to defeat republicans in 2020.
Even that gave them slim results and they are squandering what little they kept. Had they done the virtuous thing and pulled together for the good of the people, we wouldn’t have this one more thing to hate each other over. Mask mandates would have been at the lowest level possible, with individuals, businesses, buildings, schools, govt. entities being able to mandate masks for themselves directly based on need. What are examples of that? A coffee shop can require employees and patrons to wear a mask. A school district can require staff and students to wear a mask. A city government can require masks inside city buildings, but they can’t require businesses or schools to use masks. The state government can’t require or forbid cities to use masks or not but inside state agencies and buildings they can.
The problem has been the confusion started by the west about masking when they wanted masks to be reserved for healthcare workers. The economic sense of free markets is very poor with essentials. They don’t understand the concept of a bed for self-sufficiency for low-cost essentials. Countries have had to reorganize their entire industrial segments to attain self-sufficiency in simple sanitation products and masking. Then the mask issue was totally aggravated when it became a political symbol for far-right thinkers who interpret any mandate as an attack on personal freedom. Sadly, the only way mindsets change is through loss of life and especially that dear. A very crude way to learn. We should blame global health agencies for poor communication, of course, the politicians who used it as a political tool. They have positioned a mask to protect society first and then themselves. The moment self is the focus, then personal rights etc come to the fore. In Japan, travellers have seen people wearing masks on public transport for decades ago. Their attitude and logic are that when an individual has a cold or cough, then he or she would wear a mask to protect the infection from spreading to others. So, the perception of masks was as a convenient way to protect society and others, not-self.