Like so many Government interventions, face masks will have unintended consequences, and may even prove counterproductive for their very stated intention. Given the dire economic times we are now finding ourselves in, to truly assist the economic recovery, the Government should have left decisions on face masks up to the individual shop and consumer, argues Robert Hyde

With the economy beginning to fully reopen, it's oddly promising to see a surge in road traffic once again. According to new data from the Department of Transport, road usage is back to 88% of its per crisis level and even higher on weekends, at 94%.

While the Government's plea for workers to return to the office has broadly gone unheeded, a situation which is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future, the country had appeared to be heading for a new equilibrium. Not quite back to normal but, settling into a new normal all the same. That was, until news that face masks were to become compulsory for most aspects of life.

From today, we're all legally obliged to wear a face mask on public transport, as well as in shops. While there is a case to be made for medical grade face masks at this point in time, for potentially stopping the spread of Covid-19, in the name of this disease, the Government has already thrust itself into every aspect of our existence.

From placing the country as a whole under house arrest for months, to stopping loved ones seeing one another at the end of their lives, to locking churches and banning public meetings (unless it's a fashionable left wing issue being protested), the Government has interfered with life in a way  incomparable in British history.

Even in 1939, the Government of the day only requested people carry their gasmasks at all times; there was no obligation or threat of financial penalties. At that time, the threat of persecution against those who resisted Government advice was rejected, and not for the last time a Government's exaggerated claims were ignored by the common sense of the majority of the population.

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But now, the Government is presuming to dictate what we wear, in what has proved to be a not unpopular decision.

As we are now fast discovering, the Government's lockdown has wrecked what was a moderately prosperous and growing economy. And while the new laws on face masks are an attempt to increase peoples confidence about leaving the house, as the statistics at the beginning of this article demonstrate, that was already happening.

Like so many Government interventions, face masks will have unintended consequences, and may even prove counterproductive for their very stated intention. In reality, the rules around face masks may deter more people from going out, reversing the trend of people increasingly leaving the house.

Given the dire economic times we are now finding ourselves in, to truly assist the economic recovery, the Government should have left decisions on face masks up to the individual shop and consumer. By making face masks mandatory, the Government is not just further eroding personal freedom and choice, but potentially further damaging an already ruined economy.

While face masks may be accepted by certain sets of the population now, we should really be asking the Government just how temporary this measure is. Even those people wearing a face mask today presumably do not want this to become the new normal?

Just like lockdown, the Government has once again introduced a 'temporary' measure without any concept of how long they plan for it to last, or how to eventually lift it. It is one thing to accept a temporary dictate on what we must wear in the very short term, during a global pandemic, but it is quite another to be told to accept this indefinitely.

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