The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the community binding together to support essentials workers. Sunday evenings in downtown St. John’s were an eruption of noise in support of those serving the front lines against the new and terrifying pandemic. Coffee and hand-sewn masks were donated to medical staff, who risk their lives to protect the general population. Now, as early a year has passed, we are settling into the ‘new normal’. I no longer scramble to find a mask before entering the corner store; bringing a mask has become as habitual as grabbing my phone, wallet, and keys before running out of the house.
The importance of facemasks and social distancing has been drilled into our skulls for the past year. “Wearing a facemask and practicing social distancing is essential to protecting others and preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald tells us, as does Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as does the loudspeaker at the grocery store while we pick up our storm chips. Trudeau’s iconic line, “[wearing a mask] protects others more than it protects you, because it prevents you from breathing or… or… speaking, uh… ‘moistly’ on them,” taught us two things: first, viral teasing is a very effective method of spreading news, and second, masks prevent your germs from being passed along to others.
Which brings us to the question: why are we not wearing masks in drive-thrus? When we roll up to the window, we may still technically be in our vehicles’ private space, but we are also within six feet of the employee serving us. As such, employees are susceptible to our germs, and tons of other customers’ germs as well.
“It’s very uncomfortable when customers don’t wear a mask in the drive-thru.” says Sam, a frontline worker at a fast-food restaurant. “You can’t social distance in the drive-thru: we wear a mask to protect the customer, but the customer won’t do the same.”
The employees wear masks to protect the customers; customers should show them the same respect. Protect each other and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks and using contactless forms of payment.