Living in Italy

COVID Masks | Strangely American Hill to Die On

A few days ago a long lost NYC friend tagged me on a question he posted on Facebook. The subject in question? Masks and COVID 19.

Specifically Matt wanted to know from his friends living in the UK and the EU (because of course the UK is no longer part of the EU sadly) if wearing masks in the face of COVID 19 was politicized in their countries.

Here are the eye opening answers Matt’s global network of friends gave.

Out of respect, I am only using first names to protect identities and no comments were altered. Not even for typos!

The most powerful for me came first.

Are Masks Political Outside America?

“According to the in-laws, no. That’s a uniquely American hill to die on…”


Then the Italian connection chimed in.

“My family in Italy, both northern and southern parts of the country, are wearing masks and have not complained about it at all.”


“I don’t think they are a political issue. They have been mandatory here in Italy since the first week of April and transmissions have gone down by thousands. Yes they’re a pain to wear in the heat but I don’t know anyone here who complains about having to wear one. We can’t go anywhere without one – supermarket, pharmacy, bank, normal stores etc. It just makes total sense to me to wear one. The UK however is another matter, I don’t think anyone is wearing one there and yet after 3 months of lockdown cases are still very high and the death toll the 3rd highest in the world.”


“All my Italian relatives took this very seriously from the get go and have been following all guidelines without complaint.”


“Not even close no. If there is any divide it’s age. 20 somethings think they are immune.”

Brandy Shearer (me!)

The UK connection joined the conversation too.

“Yes, I’m a Brit living in California, and because the president refuses to wear one, his supporters feel like they shouldn’t have to either. He downplays the seriousness of the pandemic and lies about numbers falling and has encouraged states to open up their businesses, to catastrophic effect. The Nation is so utterly divided along party lines, that those of us in liberal states like California are ridiculed by the Trump states for our readiness to adopt the mandates. We are ‘sheeple’, apparently.”


“In the UK it is only mandatory on public transport (and some types of shops, like haiedressers) that will open on the 4th of July. The government does not help itself though as they keep saying “we will follow the science” and then quote the scientists as saying “there really is no evidence to show face masks work”. Thus making it a political football.”


“No one in the NL will wear them at all. The only place they’re required is on trams, and even there, a 1/3 have them around their neck and another 1/3 don’t cover their nose. They also don’t wear them at hospitals or dentists unless they think you have it. And one practices SD-ing at all.”


“To be fair you wear one to protect other people against YOU passing on viruses not to protect yourself. I guess it depends on whether you care or need to wait for commands. I had to wear mask for blood test yesterday where it was impossible to socially distanced. So did the nurse taking the sample. I must say I did not feel I needed to suddenly vote for one party or the other, not want to buy a gun or think I was betraying my God or any other God. I guess we are just a bit different from USA.”


A few Americans joined the conversation as well like a friend from Utah.

“A face mask isn’t an issue, to me. I just don’t wear one. Pretty sure I won’t pass it on to my livestock 🤣”


And a friend from Malaysia with my favorite response.

“Just bloody well wear one.”


Even with less then 100 patients hospitalized for COVID in the entire country, Italians are still wearing masks.

Indoors masks are required. Everyone wears them. No complaints, no questions. Entering any building hand sanitizer dispensers are used. No questions asked.

EU Opened Borders to Tourism

Starting July 1 the EU opened external borders to only 15 countries. Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China (although China is subject to confirmation of reciprocity).

As Italy opened its borders yesterday, my hope is the tourists visiting Italy will respect Italians and wear masks.

If I’m being really bold, I wish that Americans would stop putting politics first and prioritize family and friends like Italians do.

I genuinely and selfishly fear if Americans don’t take COVID more seriously and wear masks my family won’t be able to come visit me in Italy for a very long time.

As Owen said, just bloody well wear a mask.

How about you? How are things going where you live? What’s your government’s stance on masks? Do you agree with it?


  1. My wife and I just finished a two month road trip from South Florida to California. I found widespread inconsistency in the use of masks in spite of the conspicuous presence of reminders everywhere to wear them.


    1. That is America now. Partly it’s political and I’m guessing partly its population density. Hopefully that changes as the path of COVID in America is shifting to wildfire. How did you protect yourself on the road? Did you stay in hotels?


  2. We’re wearing masks on public transport, in shops, and in busy urban areas in France. It’s common courtesy and a sensible precaution. Popping over the border into Italy, the situation is very similar.


  3. In Canada it varies on the region, with increased wear I places that had/have higher cases. I think 3/4 wear them in grocery stores etc where you can’t distance and is indoors. It’s definitely not political here and we are flabbergasted to watch what it has turned into below us.


    1. I’m saddened that it has and worry daily for my parents. I have a great affinity in my heart for Canada and Canadians after spending a LOT of time in Toronto. Stay safe and travel on my friends!


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