A little over six months ago, when the coast was ablaze and shrouded in smoke for days on end, people had no hesitation about wearing masks. So why is it that now, when COVID-19 has forced the lockdown of much of Victoria and is creeping back into NSW, some people are are baulking at the idea of wearing masks?
When we spoke to Dr Martin Jones on Monday, he told us he wears a mask whenever he's out among people. Of course, being a surgeon, he's well accustomed to doing so. But he reckons we should all get used to it.
In metropolitan Victoria, masks have become mandatory for everyone venturing out in public. We are not at that point in NSW yet and there's a good chance if we use commonsense and put on a mask when we can't maintain social distance that we might avoid the compulsion.
No one is suggesting masks alone will be a silver bullet and stop the virus in its tracks. But they are another line of defence that will help slow the spread, along with hand hygiene and physical distancing.
Unfortunately, however, there is still a reluctance to wear masks, most likely being fuelled by the nonsense circulating in the social media fever swamp. It ranges from fear masks will deprive wearers of oxygen to an imported crackpot American notion that they somehow impinge on a person's civil rights. The latter makes as much sense as saying people should not be compelled to wear seatbelts when driving or that speed limits and traffic rules ought to be optional.
We do not need to try to import American silliness in our fight against this virus. After wasting months in useless debate, even Donald Trump, the architect of the pushback, is now urging his own citizens to wear masks. So if you know anyone peddling mask nonsense, do us all a favour and point this out to them.
As Dr Jones said, everyone of us is at the frontline of this pandemic and we all have a role to play.
It involves limiting unnecessary travel, staying away from big crowds, being conscious at all times of the space between ourselves and the next person and washing, washing and washing once more our hands.
If the supermarket is too crowded, leave, as Dr Jones has done. If the cafe or restaurant is too full do not go in.
And consider wearing a mask not just for your own sake but for the sake of others you might unwittingly infect.