The coronavirus rampantly proliferated across the globe since officials from Wuhan, China notified a potential outbreak of the deadly respiratory disease and since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it as a pandemic in March. Within six months, over twenty-eight million cases (as of September 11) worldwide have been recorded worldwide with a casualty of 920k. While multiple countries are currently implementing a series of tests to produce an effective vaccine, the uses of masks and adhering to physical distancing are CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO advised preventive measures to limit the spread of the contagion. Most governments have mandated the use of masks in public places.
Barring a handful of countries, the majority of nations witness a surge in cases following the ease of lockdown restrictions. Amidst that comes the anti-masks groups who, like the name suggests, are a group of people who refrain from wearing a mask, believe it is a violation of their personal liberty and an overall infringement of their rights. These independent groups have taken to the streets to demand their fundamental rights to roam freely without a mask or sprawled over on social media to propagate their belief.
America – The pioneer of Anti-mask protests
A century ago, during the 1918 influenza pandemic, American citizens refused to comply with the rules of wearing a mask despite doctor’s recommendations. Entwined with their ideologies and the supposed encroachment of their liberty and comfort, then Americans took a political route to overreach the US government.
‘Anti-Mask League’ formed in San Francisco orderly protested and held organizational meetings. They objected to the lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of masks and demanded the mask decree be repealed on the grounds of it being unconstitutional.
Hundred years later, political integration and rising conspiracy theories still prevail in the American crowd. A series of rallies were staged in different regions of the USA by people for whom “COVID is a hoax. It’s a lie. It’s a political stunt” at its foundation. Business owners are threatened, abused and killed by anti-maskers who are prohibited from entering a public store without covering their faces.
The protests in America propelled a chain of gatherings around the globe defying the rules of social distancing to denounce the use of masks.
India – Mask is a sign of “compliance and slavery”
A video consisting of four men and one woman went viral on Twitter and YouTube in India. Posted by a self-proclaimed doctor Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury a day after India celebrated its Independence, the youngsters in the video are seen making statements about the ineffectiveness of masks, the harm that it causes to the wearer and how it is a sign of compliance and slavery. They allege the carbon dioxide released from the wearer masks, the bacteria that form inside in that process “is much more harmful than anything else”.
— Pragati😇 (@pragatisart) August 17, 2020
“This is only about control. This is a psychological operation to control you because this (the mask) doesn’t work at all”, claimed one of them. Netizens quickly condemned the false propagation asserted in the video after it garnered 6,17,000 views. The video has since been taken down from both sites.
India has one of the fastest-growing cases with over four million cases recording a whopping more than 90,000 infections per day.
London – Unite For Freedom
Carrying placards that read “masks are muzzles” and “new normal = new fascism”, thousands of Londoners gathered at the Trafalgar Square demanding an end of the government and medical tyranny. Much of the protestors believe COVID-19 to be a hoax, and that masks reduce immunity while also increasing the risk of getting infected by a coronavirus.