…Compulsory policies on face coverings have been introduced primarily on the basis of biomedical evidence, with limited input from other disciplines, for example the social sciences and engineering. Given the challenges Covid-19 has created for society, never has there been a greater need for meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue… Westhuizen and colleagues’ engagement with ideas beyond the biomedical is therefore heartening. However, their social and cultural analysis is problematic…
The Roman philosopher Cicero coined the phrase “Salus populi suprema lex esto” to describe the first duty of any legitimate government. ‘Salus’, however, has a much broader meaning than just health, referring equally to the safety, security, welfare and happiness of citizens. Mass interventions such as mandating face coverings must always be justified as conferring benefits proportionate to the harms they may do elsewhere. Without a full and reasoned assessment of this policy, that justification has
yet to be made.
(E.S. Hanna, R. Dingwall, M. Mccartney, R.West, E. Townsend, J. Cassell, G.P. Martin) ‘Rapid Response: Socio-cultural reflections on face coverings must not ignore the negative consequences’, British Medical Journal 2020;370:m3021 19 August 2020 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3021