Why not wear masks forever?

As I understand it, masks have had a big ancillary benefit, which is that in addition to preventing the spread of Covid, they also help to hinder the transmission of cold, flu, and other respiratory diseases that transmit the same way Covid transmits.

So…when this pandemic is finally over, why not have everyone wear masks anyway, forever? Aside from being a minor inconvenience, could the payoff be worth it - especially each winter, during flu season?

Other Covid measures like quarantining, social distancing, etc. could come to an end once the pandemic ends, but mask-wearing seems pretty easy.

Because wearing masks everywhere sucks.


  • Uncomfortable
  • Have to keep buying / cleaning them
  • One more thing I have to remember to always have with me
  • It’s off-putting not being able to see people’s faces

all can be said about underwear, too!

I don’t see the point of wearing a mask for the flu because we have a vaccine for that, and I don’t see the point of wearing a mask for the common cold because colds are typically very mild and it’s just not worth the hassle.

Because my mask is probably a germ infested piece of paper that I have been wearing for 3 weeks.

If your underwear is obscuring your face, you’re doing it wrong.

However, you will achieve a separation of six feet from other people at all times.

One of the effects of the 2004-2006 SARS outbreak is that in the affected countries it has become very common to wear a mask in public if you have a cold. There is an international students hall near my work in London and I even before Covid I would see asian students wearing masks on most days.

As was said, it would be great if people with colds would start wearing masks. That would be a great societal benefit.

Covid-19 is different because of the asymptomatic transmission.

You mean kinda like what people and Japan generally do? Wear masks when one has a cold to prevent spread.

So far I haven’t found a mask that doesn’t fog my glasses up, so I usually don’t wear glasses when wearing my mask. My part-time job involves physical labor and if I’ve sweated enough, my mask soaks it up, stops passing air, and sometimes gets sucked into my mouth. It also stinks pretty bad for the rest of the day. Lastly, since I’m hearing impaired, having to listen to everyone’s muffled voices has been hell for me. I don’t claim to be able to read lips, but I wonder if not being able to see the lip movement is also negatively affecting my ability to understand others.

I will continue to wear a mask as part of my small effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but if a day comes where wearing a mask is no longer considered useful for that purpose, I will stop.

Clearly the OP is completely unfamiliar with America and it’s amazing acceptance of even the tiniest concessions that might be expected of them in the face of more than a quarter of a million of their countrymen dying from a preventable cause.
See also: Speed limits and seat belts.

I’ve found these brackets worn under the masks to be a noticeable improvement, keeping the mask off the mouth and nose. I no longer inadvertently try to readjust the mask all the time, and it’s definitely more breathable when there’s space between my nostrils and the mask. Still humid, but less so. And they’re cheap. There’s no loss of seal with them.


I’m perfectly OK with masks just being a thing from now on. For the last few months I’ve been collecting reusable masks with faces printed on them (Batman, Alfred E. Neumann, a cat, my own face, etc.) and I like that I can choose what face I put on every day.

Also, as a service industry worker, it means I no longer have to fake a smile when talking to customers.

I can’t be the only one to find masks legit loathesome to wear (and yes, I have one on every time I walk out the house, and will till the end of the pandemic). I can’t last more than about half an hour at anything but the most gentle of walking paces without my heart starting to pound, and feeling like I’m gasping for breath. That’s in commercial surgical masks - supposedly the most breathable - as well as my own homemade ones. Lets not get into glasses-fog on top of that. And it’s not even summer yet. I’m shuddering at what a mask is going to be like in 40 degree days. Winter, at least they kept your face warm.

For ordinary colds, I take advantage of the “stay at home” procedure

This might help you - or anyone else dealing with hearing impairment and a mask.
For those who don’t want to watch, it’s a demonstration/suggestion by an NHS ambulance driver - use Google Live Transcribe on your phone. It’s probably already installed if you have an Android phone, and is available for I-things as well.
I’ll certainly keep it in mind for the next time I deal with a hearing-impaired customer at work, mask or no.

I’m hearing impaired with or without masks, and masks give me an excuse for not hearing others.

I like masks. I’ll be among the last to stop wearing one in public should people in general stop wearing them.

COVID is different from most respiratory diseases in that it’s so often asymptomatic. Almost anyone could potentially have it right this moment, without having any way of knowing it. So if we want everyone who might have it to wear a mask, that means everyone wearing a mask.

Most respiratory diseases aren’t like that: If you have them, you’ll have at least some symptoms, and so if you don’t have any symptoms, you can be fairly confident that you don’t have it. So without COVID, there’s no significant benefit for someone without symptoms wearing a mask.

That said, for people who do have symptoms, yeah, wearing a mask will probably become the new normal, and yeah, that’s probably a good thing. Ordinary colds might not be as bad as COVID, but they’re still something that we’d prefer to spread less, if possible.

If it makes OP feel any better, masks are probably going to be with us for quite a while.

Even before SARS, I saw a lot of mask-wearing in Asian countries. Mostly by people who are sick, or are worried about getting sick for some reason. It wouldn’t be the worst habit in the world, but it’s uncomfortable and not a justifiable solution for milder/more common diseases that have vaccines.

Before my first trip to Europe some years ago, a fellow traveler said to me “When you’ve been there a couple days, blow your nose and see what comes out.” So I did. Wow, black specks in my kleenex. Here’s a map from 2016. I can see why in some places around the world, masks might reduce other illnesses.


Actually, getting into the cultural habit of wearing a mask whenever you have a contagious respiratory ailment seems reasonable to me. It works for the Japanese - aren’t we inconsiderate sissies by comparison if we can’t adopt similar habits? (I’m assuming there is evidence that masks are societally beneficial outside of stopping the spread of Covid-19, of course; if no such evidence exists then there is no point.)

Seems to me that the more common mask-wearing becomes, the more technology will improve in terms of comfort and convenience. As for me, there are things I like about my mask: personal expression (I just got masks that show my support of national public radio) and the fact I don’t really need to worry about my facial appearance when I go out. On the other hand, Hawai’i is pretty warm, and yes, the mask does get annoying after a while walking around in the heat.

I liked Dave Chappelle’s observation on yesterday’s SNL that mask-wearing didn’t seem to be too much of an imposition for the KKK.