GR US

What Will We Do without Masks?

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shopping district in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Why aren't you talking to me?

I had recently passed in front of an acquaintance of mine as I was entering a restaurant in Astoria and did not recognize him.

His eyes, which looked out at me over the mask he was wearing, reminded me of someone. But I was not sure who he was.

I see this as one of the many costs of the coronavirus that we all have to pay.

After more than a year of wearing a mask, I am afraid that other similar incidents have occurred, without coming to my attention.

I apologize to those I unknowingly did not acknowledge.

We Westerners are not accustomed to wearing masks or generally covering our faces, unlike Muslims who do so for religious and social reasons and Asians who wear them due to environmental pollution and to protect themselves from the germs that circulate.

So, when we are forced to wear them, we do not find it particularly pleasant.

But in this day and age, in the age of the coronavirus, it is necessary. Especially when we travel by plane, where we sit in one place for many hours, without knowing if our neighbors have been vaccinated or not.

I was impressed when I noticed that from the first moment we arrived at the airport in New York until the moment we left the airport in Athens, almost everyone wore masks.

First of all, it is required by law. And secondly, it makes a lot of sense.

Of course there are times, such as during the meal, when one must remove his/her mask.

And when someone forgets to put it back on, flight attendants passing by will tell you to put it back on.

And they do very well to do that.

We did the PCR test 72 hours before our departure – do not wait until the last minute because the results will not be ready in time – and we also filled out the Passenger Locator Form required by the Greek government (available on the website gov.gr) – so that they can track the movements of someone who presents coronavirus symptoms.

And I must note that this time the passport control at Eleftherios Venizelos airport was more thorough – though not very organized.

However, I would advise that before you travel, make sure you look for the latest information because the rules change depending on the conditions in each country.

The situation regarding masks began to change in May when the CDC – the relevant U.S. agency – announced that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, except when taking a means of public transportation or visiting a hospital.

This is likely to change as coronavirus infections have risen significantly recently – due to the Delta mutation – in many countries, including Greece and Cyprus.

So, just when we were starting to show our face again and have the joy of recognizing and being recognized, I am afraid we will have to wear the masks again for quite some time to come.

As for those who for some reason – unfortunately – refuse to be vaccinated, they should at least wear masks.

It will be a sign of respect for their neighbors.