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Just Mask Why I'll continue to wear my face mask even after rules are lifted

Rules are going out the window, but my KN95 won't be

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Lip filler salons rejoice as face masks look set to become a thing of the past.

Mandatory mask-wearing everywhere from schools to shops goes on the window on Monday week, which is, incidentally, where much of the disposable PPE has also gone following a reported 9,000 per cent increase in face-mask litter during the pandemic.

It leaves TikTok star Hareem Shah, who told how she fled a lip-plumping appointment halfway through after discovering her bank accounts had been frozen, in rather an awkward spot.

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Hareem Shah

Hareem Shah

Hareem Shah

Just two short years ago, channelling Michael Jackson in a surgical mask while out and about seemed about as bonkers as naming your child "Blanket".

Now, I find myself among the near 50pc of people here who told how they will continue to wear a face covering and keep their distance from others long after that-thing-I-promised-never-to-mention-again is in the rearview mirror.

When Beckett said 'life is habit' he probably wasn't talking about remembering to grab a KN95 before dashing out the door to do the big shop, but after being forced to do just that for the past 24 months, it's going to take more than a few soothing words from Micheál Martin to convince me to whip my nose out in the frozen foods aisle any time soon.

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A statue of James Joyce with a Covid-19 face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

A statue of James Joyce with a Covid-19 face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

A statue of James Joyce with a Covid-19 face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

Accepting Nphet's advice to ditch masks as a must on Friday, the Taoiseach conceded that many may prefer to keep their snout under wraps in busy shops or crowded buses as flu season continues.

"People, where they feel comfortable, will take their own decisions and personal behaviour is going to be important here," he said - which is Dáilspeak for "free-for-all."

Since the outbreak, masks have been at the forefront of both sides of the debate.

Down the line, when the 2020 and 2021 episodes of Reeling in the Years air, I'm sure we will wince just as much at the sight of shoppers coming to blows over the last box of surgical masks as defiant grannies being jailed for refusing to wear one.

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Since the science shows that wearing a properly-fitted mask reduces the risk of infection by between 50pc (for a cloth mask) and 83pc (for the more tight-fitting KN95 or N95), I'm at least hoping to be on the right side of history with this one.

Round me up with all the other "sheeple", but I was perfectly happy to have my personal freedom trampled upon to protect more vulnerable family members at the peak of a global pandemic.

Feck it, in the pits of lockdown, I might as well admit I would have worn a straitjacket if it meant being able to get out of the house for a flat white or a blow dry.

It's the LA business man who dropped $1.5m on the world's most expensive diamond and gold face mask who I feel most sorry for.

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Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal Lecter

With 94.5pc of Ireland's adult population now fully vaxxed, there is every justification for leaving the Hannibal Lecter look behind as we move from the emergency phase to the transition phase this spring, along with the maskholery displayed by both camps, not to mention dreadful words like 'maskne'.

But if muzzling up for another short while helps make me and others feel a little safer, then pass the fava beans and a nice Chianti.

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