When will Masks go away?

I understand masks are still required but has the Space set a criteria to eliminate the mask mandate? It’s not required for travel, restaurants, and public spaces. I know there are political issues at play but who actually makes the call?

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As a high risk person, one of the reasons that I chose to join the space was that masks are required. It is one of the only safe places left for me to visit. I know they aren’t the most comfortable, but I hope that we can keep them for as long as possible.

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I make the call in consultation with the board of directors and our volunteers/staff.

There’s no politics at play here. We have vulnerable individuals in our community of members and volunteers. Our volunteer pool is small and we’re already dealing with volunteers needing to be absent due to COVID infections. We rely on our volunteers to keep the doors open for open hours.

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I have been feeling the need to say something. I can speak as someone who is immunocompromised, I would opt for no mask and I would like to see masks made optional at the space. I should explain.

Take for instance the N-95 mask. It is considered the best commonly available mask, not only for the money, but for its protective ability. The N-95 is a 5 micron mask, which means it will filter out particles 5 microns and larger. The holes in the mask are approximately 3 microns in size. Please read that as: about, kind of, sort of, around, close to, or maybe 3 microns-ish. A corona virus is 1.2 to 1.25 microns in diameter. If the configuration of the holes in the mask are fairly roundish, this will allow 3 viruses to pass through at every impulse, or micron of air flow. The N-95 is not a 4 micron mask, as the holes approach 4 microns in size there could be seven viruses passing through at once. When you inhale through an N-95, you may notice the mask draws against your skin as the mask does not allow enough incoming airflow to accommodate a strong inhale. If you exhale quickly, you will notice the mask lifting from your face for the passage of air, which is completely unfiltered. If you wear glasses, you should already understand that moist air is released through the top of the mask. A cloth mask could have as many as 1700 virus diameters between threads.

Masks work for the particular things they are designed to work for, and to the limits of the technology used to make them. They will not do what is impossible for them to do. They can give you a psychological advantage and a false sense of security, but no real protection.

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To be clear up front, I’m not criticizing the decision-making at all. I know it’s a difficult call because people have competing, incompatible demands and wishes, and I have no reason to doubt that Brian (and everyone on the board) is making these decisions in good faith. Especially with the volunteer nature of the space, Brian’s points are reasonable.

I’m just posting to add a +1 to Gary’s point. Without specifics about mask type the policy becomes meaningless, e.g. I talked with someone wearing a cloth mask the other day. If someone wears a respirator or other high quality mask for protection, me wearing a cloth mask is providing no additional protection to them.

A potential compromise: Mask optional but you must take a covid test at entry if you want to go maskless. In some ways this provides more protection than the current policy, where I could (unknowingly) be positive and enter with a cloth mask on, spreading covid all around the space.

(Having just rejoined makers recently, I apologize if these issues have been discussed to death over the last year!)