On a brilliantly sunny day, city centre looked like downtown Jeddah

by Colin Campbell

I SAID recently that a Scottish Government ruling that we must now all wear masks in stores after months when no such rule has applied made no sense, that compliance would rapidly fall away, and it would soon be widely ignored.

As virus risk falls away, more masks than ever around.

And I got that completely wrong. 

The decree is unenforceable and no one is being refused service in stores if they don’t wear a mask and as far as I’ve seen there are no masked scowls or glares directed at anyone who isn’t wearing one. But virtually everyone is. Far from falling away, mask usage in stores has risen to nearly 100 per cent. 

And it hasn’t stopped there either. More and more people are not taking these things off when they leave shops but are walking around wearing them outside in the open air as well. Last Friday on a brilliantly sunny day Inverness city centre looked like downtown Jeddah with the number of face coverings on display. 

What’s the explanation for this? There have been no reported virus infections in Inverness and the Highlands for over a week now. The risk of catching the virus in the open air on the streets of Inverness is on the underside of non-existent but there have never been so many masks around. 

Are people simply following an alien trend because, passingly, it makes life a fraction more interesting? Do they want to cover up their teeth or facial blemishes? Or do they for some strange reason want to walk around unrecognizable and anonymous? It certainly helps in avoiding people you might not want to talk to. 

Seeing people’s faces used to be and still is one of the more interesting aspects of life. But more and more people are choosing to remain unidentifiable. There can be no health related reason for this. If there was many more masks would have been worn when the virus threat was at its peak rather than when it’s as miniscule as it is now. 

Let’s hope this strange new tendency to cover up faces in the wide open outdoors for no good or rational reason is a trend that rapidly fades away. 

Get back to normal? The bandit country look of Inverness at the moment is a constant reminder that we are not even close. 

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