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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on wearing face coverings.

I went into my local supermarket for the first time wearing a facemask. In all honesty, I didn’t want face coverings to become mandatory and when the announcement was made in Scotland, my heart sank a little. I thought of the tedium of remembering to keep one with me at all times, the discomfort of wearing a mask or any sort of covering and how this would affect the whole shopping experience. I knew that I was probably exaggerating the whole issue but couldn’t figure out why this was bothering me so much.

Yet as I shopped around with everyone else wearing different colours and styles, something that I had almost been dreading, actually felt ok, almost normal. People were simply going about their business.  As I approached the checkout, the friendly young man at the till began to chat. I sounded muffled as I replied so much so that I nearly took the mask off. For a while I was conscious of speaking to him from behind a barrier but the more I chatted the easier it became to accept that all this was now normal because it was safer for everyone.

Wearing face coverings is the most recent consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. It reminds us all that as we return to the physical spaces of work and more frequent encounters with friends and colleagues, how we protect ourselves and one another must remain a priority. Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learnt in recent months is that society is built on interdependency and a good society is one where each of us takes responsibility for the health and wellbeing of others.

Photography: Sam Sills