Blacktip Island officials have declared mask use obligatory for a small group of COVID-free island residents. “We’re not saying certain folks are ugly. We just don’t want to see their faces,” mayor Jack Cobia said.
Blacktip Island authorities Wednesday announced select residents will be required to continue wearing COVID face masks and to maintain a six-foot distance from other residents, despite there being no active COVID cases on the small Caribbean island.
“It has nothing to do with health risks,” mayor Jack Cobia said. We just got used to some of our . . . less photogenic . . . folks being covered up when they were out and about. We called an Island Council meeting, open for public input, and the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor. It’s been nice not seeing some people’s faces and we want to continue that.
“We whittled the list down as much as we could, trying to be fair to everybody,” Cobia said. “Council members took public opinion into account in making the list. It won’t make everybody happy, but overall it’ll make life more pleasant on this little rock.”
The move enjoyed broad community support.
“I’m not saying Dermott Bottoms is ill-favored, at least not to his face, but it was nice not seeing his mug for a year and a half,” Ernestine Bass said. “The mask also muffles his voice, so that and the distancing worked wonders for my nerves. They can say this isn’t health related, but it’s doing wonders for lots of people’s mental health.”
Some of those singled out protested the rule.
“Calling me butt-ugly is what they’re doing, you know,” James Conlee said. “Don’t see nobody making M’rina or Alison wear masks. I’m no more hideous than ‘Tonio, and he don’t have to wear one, either. Now I got a complex.
“And how they think they’re gonna enforce this? I know my rights,” Conlee said. “Got feelings, too, you know. Folks don’t want to hear me talk, just ask me to stop. That’ll be that. I’ll stop talking. Won’t say another word. Not-a-one. Not even a peep. I can be quiet like nobody’s business. I’ll bet.”
Island medical officials say the rule will have indirect health benefits.
“There’s therapeutic value to having certain people masked,” Dr. Azul Tang said. “It’ll lower residents’ stress, pulse and blood pressure. And masks plus social distancing will also cut down on bar fights. On Blacktip, that’s always been more of a threat, and an epidemic, than any virus.”
Others vowed to help enforce the rule.
“Having select residents masked and muzzled amounts to a public beautification project,” retired Royal Army Sgt. Maj. Beaugregory Damsil said. “I just wish they’d have approved my proposal for full-face masks and ball gags. And don’t you worry about enforcement—the constable and I will take great pleasure in that.”