Travelling Southern Europe – Are Face Masks Mandated?

We thank colleagues for providing us with this up to date summary on where face masks are currently mandated.

Patients, families and colleagues ask us almost daily for information regarding “where can we go without a face mask”?

Please know that information often varies from day to day. “This is the reason so many suffer with health and mental health problems, we now live in constant fear and uncertainty about face masks, the focus is not on a viral or respiratory infection, it is on face masks, no one can tolerate it, and it is not based on good evidence”, medical director.

“It makes no sense that face masks are mandatory in ferries, but not on airplanes or in airports, this is not a medical or clinical decision, clearly”, medical specialist, 20 years clinical experience.

We thank countries such as France and the UK for their current consistent and evidence-based approach; face masks are not mandated in general public settings including ferries, flights or airports. The government website has further details.

“I wonder why the travel agents and magazines are mute about face masks, which is the news of the last few years, the one topic that directs travel for many or most people, they pretend it does not exist”, medical director.

Medical colleagues agree that;

A – Many countries or states have never introduced mandatory face mask initiatives or have discontinued face mask mandates, some for longer than 6 months now; medical doctors we liaise with report that “it made no difference to statistics in terms of serious presentations, hospitalisations or deaths … there is very good evidence that face masks do not help or work or protect anyone, but it is not summarised or published, why not, and furthermore, statistics in terms of mental health, social harms and other health problems improve often (when face mask mandates discontinued), such as doctors return to work, sick leave is 3x higher with face mask mandates it seems”, medical director and responsible officer.

Please know, as mentioned, Singapore was the first country to recommend to the general public to not wear face masks; their good outcomes supported this clinical approach. We observed this approach in person at the beginning of 2020. We are most grateful to Singapore.

B – “75-90% of doctors I speak to speak only or mostly of how face masks harm their patients (or their friends and family); they refer to drinking more alcohol, starting to use drugs or using more drugs, more medication (over the counter and prescribed medication), more violence, more divorces, more child abuse, more general health problems requiring medication, such as allergies or stress related symptoms, more mental health problems (3-10x higher), more suicidal and homicidal ideation in the general public as well as within the medical community. Most doctors report that 9/10 patients report these problems, with 50% being ‘high risk’, and that they keep notes”. Medical director

Please know that we routinely ask patients, families and colleagues regarding their own experiences in the context of face masks, and this pattern is congruent with our own findings.

C – We were asked to liaise with organisations to ask two questions:

1) “why do the WHO, CDC and ECDC (or Public Health England) not make it clear that that no good clinical evidence supports face masks in public settings (… most doctors with appropriate clinical training and experience will know that no good clinical evidence will ever support face masks) and that taking possible benefits and risks into account, face masks should never be mandated or compulsory”?

“People who recommend face masks only make it clear that they themselves have no good medical training, clinical experience and thirdly, that they don’t understand infectious diseases or related research, how to critically review clinical evidence, … although no doctor with good training or extensive clinical experience will ever believe ‘good evidence’ for face masks even if it existed, but it does not – face masks cause harm to many, this most medical doctors know, look at risks of violence, drug use, alcohol use, all increased, and people say they want to end their lives due to it, that their general and mental health is poor due to lack of freedom and this constant fear that masks will be mandated again”, medical director. 

2) “why don’t the WHO, CDC, ECDC and PHE make it clear that statistics currently indicate that the state of emergency has not been appropriate for months now, and that countries who drop all restrictions have no more problems than countries who don’t, and that the numbers for many things like child abuse or suicidal ideation are actually better in those countries”?

“Many medical colleagues are liaising with legal colleagues and the International Criminal and Human Rights Courts, because this is criminal, to force something that causes risk and harm is not acceptable in any country or context, or did I miss something, is deprivation of liberty now legal?”, medical director. 

“Service development and service provision have been negatively affected, delayed and stopped in numerous countries due to this state of emergency that continues when it should have been stopped a year or more ago, so many suffer unnecessarily, because people are invested to keep us afraid and masked when this was never necessary, any person who keeps quiet shares in the blame”, medical doctor, director (legal training). 

“Half of my medical colleague group said they are retiring because the system is broken, they will not wear face masks in hospitals when no evidence supports this for going on 3 years, as a blanket rule, and because they cannot believe that masks are mandated in the public, despite no good evidence, and evidence that it hurts people, the medical community has lost faith in their leaders, because they force bad evidence on people”, medical director.

“If we don’t stand together, all the nations, face masks will be a thing and a risk for 10 years, is what my New Zealand colleagues say, this will affect travel and the economy and also health and mental health and social harms for decades, we can’t say it is not our problem, because we don’t have to wear face masks, nations copy each other, what happens with our neighbours, will affect us, we need to work together to protect children who now suffer with development, health and mental health, and adults”, medical doctor, 20 years clinical experience.

Please know that we have been contacted by many leaders in Health or Government, and many share these concerns. Generalising will not help anyone; good clinical evidence will ensure protection and a consistent, collaborative and congruent approach.

Risk assessments need to be systemic (consider all relevant bio-psycho-social risk and protective factors) to be effective. We thank our colleagues who engage in systemic risk assessments before finalising recommendations. Safeguarding the general public is not complicated in this regard, as most medical colleagues would agree, “if you follow good clinical evidence and make decisions based on good medical training and clinical experience”, medical director.

“Many say ‘I don’t mandate it, but I recommend it, or I don’t recommend it but I say it’ – from a legal point of view, if you are a medical doctor, leader or leading organisation, it makes no difference, and if you say, recommend or mandate it – you have to take responsibility for it – so make sure it is based good clinical evidence”, legal colleague.

We have shared concerns with relevant individuals and organisations. We thank colleagues who have responded to us since March/April 2020. We have only received negative responses from 3 individuals. We have been informed by tech colleagues that some responses have included efforts to sabotage our work and sharing of information. We thank our clinical, legal and tech colleagues for their support in ensuring that no harm is caused to any party in any way by our involvement.

Our aim is to ensure that the general public is safeguarded by following good clinical evidence from a bio-psycho-social point of view. Risk and protective factors have to be considered. Important protective factors include, for example, education and supporting the immune system. We thank those with similar goals.

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