Masks and vaccs

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

Now that the vaccine is being rolled out (sloooowly) in some parts of the country, the next discussion point is what freedoms get to be enjoyed by those who have been fully vaccinated. After all, they’ve just been inoculated against that fearsome disease that removed so much of what was pleasurable and even normal from our daily lives, right? There must be some new-found liberties to enjoy after enduring the stress of getting jabbed.

The newest proposal on the table is the ability of the fully-dosed to enter indoor spaces and avail of “services and activities”. I suppose the locked-down community is just itching to enter stadiums, gyms, and concert halls, and mingle with others.

You know. The small things we do to communicate on other levels aside from what can be conveyed via Zoom. Like, elbow-rubbing. Glad-handing. Maybe a kiss here and a smooch there. Even a canoodle and a fondle. So the natural question is, whether life can return a little bit more towards normality (this new normal ain’t really normal.)

That proposal is spotlit by the concomitant announcement by the Center for Disease Control in America about allowing fully-vaccinated individuals to take off their masks in public. To emphasize this great news, President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris walked into their news briefing with no masks, oozing confidence and, as Harris remarked, showing their great smiles.

Here, nothing has been floated yet about letting masks fall away, just the one about indoor restrictions. Admittedly, there’s something tempting about opening up more indoor spaces, so that it can serve as an incentive to those who are hesitant about being vaccinated. If vaccine-shy citizens see the ease with which the vaccinated can access museums or restaurants, it might just convince them to finally bare their arms to that needle.

Unfortunately, our Department of Health has ruled this out, saying minimum health protocols should still be followed even after vaccination. After all, vaccination is no guarantee the vaccinated will never get infected, or worse, that they will never be infectious. So whatever movement restrictions are in place for the rest of the population should still hold.

To the credit of our health officials, it does become tricky to figure out who is and isn’t vaccinated. Sure, there are vaccine passports, but the documents we have are paper-based, pretty easy to counterfeit. And, indeed, information on faking these papers are already rife in the internet --allowing idiots to manufacture their own vaccine passports. So how would an establishment successfully segregate those who have been vaccinated from those who haven’t? Another kind of national ID proposal coupled with scanned QR codes? Not again.

This same limitation can be said about masks. If that requirement is waived for vaccinated people, we could end up with enforcement issues. For example, how would a peace officer determine which passerby is or isn’t vaccinated?

To stop and ask maskless pedestrians about status, and request proof, might lead to more police brutality (or accusations thereof) from the random walker. To track electronically may lead to privacy issues --although the voluntary sharing of information on vaccine status seems to be in the works for IATA and travelers on certain airlines.

The end result of a waiver on masks might be, everyone will just end up wearing masks anyway, just to avoid the hassle of being questioned. Which isn’t a bad situation, honestly, given the Pinoys’ penchant for faking documents and flouting rules. I would certainly wear a mask, just so I wouldn’t feel defensive about all the glares I get from suspicious neighbors.

The better reason, of course, is to protect oneself from all the fakers (and worse), who aren’t vaccinated, who might even be sick, and who just don’t care about the health of others. And so they flout the rules and partake of the freedoms afforded the vaccinated. If one can’t avoid them, or even detect them - that facial mask should do the trick.

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