Masks have never been popular in western countries as they are associated with fear, panic, the unknown and even the supernatural. Public executioners for centuries wore masks and dentists still do.
Then there were gas masks in the Second World War. Not to mention all those recent horror films – Halloween, Joker, Stephen King’s It – which underpin the sheer awfulness of disguising your face.
That may explain why Pattaya-based farang, or what’s left of them, were slow to start using masks. The other reason is that they were impossible to find in Thailand in the early days of the pandemic. One pharmacy even had a notice perched on a chair outside the premises, “Don’t even ask.”
Masks are uncomfortable to wear, steam up your glasses, inhibit sensible conversation and prevent you from using facial recognition to turn on your mobile phone.
In the age of coronavirus, they also enable undesirables of all types to hide behind them without arousing suspicion. As recently as last year, Hong Kong and France for very different reasons made it illegal to cover your face in public. How the rules have changed!