Unmasking the masks

You would think that after 11 months of wearing the dratted face masks we would be used to them by now. When they first came out in February I scoffed at them thinking the situation would not get that critical to have to wear them everywhere. But as we all know and experienced, things escalated very fast in the wrong direction. Personally I have had a phobia of masks since I was a baby due to all the time spent in the hospitals and in surgery. Mommy used to tell me stories of my anxiety attacks whenever I saw anyone dressed in a white lab coat, automatically associating that attire with doctors. Unfortunately, Daddy worked in the food canning industry for many years, which meant most of his co-workers had to wear white lab coats as well, which freaked me out incessantly. So bring-your-child-to-work-day was never on the cards for me. With the lab coat came the masks, and therein lies my problem.

Fast-forward 50 years later and I still harbour a deep resentment to the face masks, in any form. You can imagine my horror when they became part of the daily routine and a necessity for commuters. I tried my best to find the silver lining in it all, going for the cloth masks instead of the disposable ones, which felt somewhat less oppressive to me. The advantage of the cloth masks was that you could wash, disinfect and re-use them and for the fashion conscious you can even match your mask to your outfit of the day. This was actually fun during the Christmas season and I even received a wonderful homemade mask from my cousin all the way in Toronto with a frog emblem!

As we stumbled into January 2021, the virus mutations and the staggering numbers here in Germany, out with the cloth masks and in with the mandatory EU-certified FFP2s (Filtering Face Piece) or the more common (and significantly cheaper) disposable surgical masks. I couldn’t help the initial wave of nausea after reading the new regulations on Tuesday night that kick into effect this Sunday. We are all painfully aware that we are now at the point where it is over and beyond about what we want but what we need to protect ourselves and others.

For the second time this month I regret being under 60 years old and healthy –
1. I am in the last age group to be vaccinated – according to the current schedule, I am due anywhere between August 7, 2021 or Feb. 8, 2022!
2. I am too young to receive the free FFP2 masks from the government, nor am I homeless, so the bullet must be bitten.

The choice of mask also depends on your profession and amount of exposure in public transportation, but the first thing that shocked me about the FFP2s was the price. Wow, they don’t come cheap at all no matter where you look. The prices began at 29 EUR for 20 pcs (best deal so far) otherwise the packs range anywhere between 29 – 150 EUR, depending on the quality, source and a whole bunch of other factors. My daughter picked up a few for 3.95 EUR each (gulp) and the pharmacy I dropped by today was offering them for a whopping 4.95 EUR each. Forget all those caramel lattes and doughnuts, we need all the money for FFP2 masks from now on! The only consolation with these items, aside from the health benefits of course, is that you can re-use them two or three times before having to dispose them.

Curiously enough though, the prices on Amazon.de suddenly dropped as of this writing, perhaps due to the sudden high demand and pending deadline. Since it is always wise to have a backup plan, we also have a small stash of the disposable medical masks as well. I truly look forward to the time all this will come to and end and medical masks will remain in hospitals and FFP2s will not be required in public anymore.

To give you an overview of what the current situation is in Germany with regard to the pandemic and the masks, click HERE.

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