As Layla Monèra Hester makes the point well (and some of the replies do not seem to understand), masks have a marginal effect in preventing general transmission of the disease within a relatively healthy population, this is now well established from academic studies even from those non-hostile to face-masks, e.g. https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/face-masks-could-protect-vulnerable-people-against-coronavirus. Now, if you are ill, coughing, sneezing and spluttering over people, a face mask protects them to a degree until your mask becomes saturated (which for most absorbent materials will not be long) and never is the case for non-porous masks. If you are that ill, you should either not be out or as we all know, you sneeze into something and drug yourself up if your boss will fire you for not showing up. Face masks are a classic case of swallowing the camel whilst straining the fly.
The Chief Medical Officer in the UK went as far to say they would not appreciably affect the spread of the virus in the general population. Same with social distancing, there are now academic studies that establish social distancing in a fit and healthy population group does not do what people believe that it does. One such study from UCL (one of the best Universities in London, UK) concluded that the government’s shutting of schools in the UK was unjustified on the social-distancing argument made by their “scientific” advisors. Why these same academics did not speak up and peer review the report of the chief government “experts” from Imperial College London to prevent us going into lockdown in the first place, is the question I believe needs answering.
No pun intended, but these are much more “face-saving” measures for governments that need to get people back into work rather than being paid (80% of their wage in the UK) for doing nothing which is completely unsustainable. It is the same with waiting for so-called vaccines, there are already multiple strains and any vaccine is going to be generic and of limited effectiveness, much as flu-jabs are now. If someone wants me to have a shot or wear a mask because it makes them feel better if we are waiting for a train, or they want me to not come within 2 metres of them at work, I probably would for their emotional well-being but it is an absolute delusion for me to think I am protecting myself and only offers them marginal protection.
Remember most people will recover from COVID after being rough for a few days, at most a few weeks (mortality rate was only 0.5% in Korea and maxes out amongst unfit and unhealthy Westerners at around 10%), and there will be future waves of it and other lab-enhanced nasties which every crazy well-funded group will now be working on creating knowing they can shut down the world with it. Unless we are going to have regular seasonal lockdowns, we need to handle the risk in a reasonable way, the way we manage other risk enhanced activities.
At risk groups always get hit hard with any epidemic but up until this point in human history, governments have never been bold enough or had enough power to imprison their citizens; totalitarian lockdowns help no-one except to become more dependent on government handouts and more controllable by a complicit and corrupt media. Another study by a group of Italian academics (and Italy had the highest mortality in Europe) concluded that “lives were not saved by lockdown” in Italy(it is currently in peer review). It is not actually hard to understand why, the logic of trying to manage a virus in this way is just basically faulty. If I am likely to die of COVID-19 in April or the first other disease I catch because I am “vulnerable” a few months later, the death count at the end of that same year will be unchanged, no lives have been saved. The best protection people can have is to get themselves fit and healthy, then divert the resources from managing the unmanageable to testing and protecting those that are vulnerable through no fault of their own.