Illustrative photo – Crowds of people wait on January 8, 223 at the station in Hong Kong in the check-in hall for departure to China, which after three years opened its borders and no longer requires quarantine when crossing, tens of thousands of people left Hong Kong.
Hong Kong – In three years, people in Hong Kong have become so used to face masks that they are often ashamed to appear in public without them. The obligation to wear a mask in the Asian metropolis only ended on Wednesday, and many people, including children in schools, continue to walk voluntarily with their faces covered, the Financial Times wrote.
Teachers and children at the Chinese YMCA elementary school also had concerns about the end of wearing masks during classes. To prepare the children for the change, the school even organized a special class for them called “How to appreciate smiling faces”.
“Some pupils are still shy,” said the director. “It's been a long time since they last appeared in front of their classmates with their faces uncovered,” he explained.
Hong Kong became one of the last places in the world to lift the mask requirement after 945 days. On Wednesday, the first day when the regulation ceased to apply, only about 80 of about 700 students showed up at school without masks.
The same is true of other residents of Hong Kong. “After almost three years of wearing a face mask, it has become a part of Hong Kong people's lives,” explains Bryant Hui, who teaches psychology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
“If wearing a face mask is still considered a social norm, for example if your fellow passengers on the train are wearing it, then there is a much higher chance that you will do the same,” adds Hui. According to him, the fear of the covid infection is not the only reason why people do not intend to give up the mask.
People contacted by the Financial Times said that they will continue to wear the mask, for example, because of an allergy, an attempt to avoid second-hand smoke or simply because that they had masks left at home. “Wearing a veil is part of a fashion trend,” said Mi Lee, who works in the hospitality industry.
“It's a habit. I can't simply adapt to not wearing it. It's like trying to quit smoking. It's it's an addiction that you can't just get rid of. But I'm not afraid of Covid. I already caught it last year,” also confided the seller Ah Miu.
The fact that they were worn in Hong Kong may also contribute to the popularity of masks common in other places in Asia even before the spread of covid-19. In South Korea, for example, during the spring, the government encourages people to wear masks to prevent respiratory illnesses during the dust storm season in East Asia.