That is the main topic of my latest Bloomberg column. Here is one bit:
Even if the attendees are wearing masks at the beginning, the masks come off once they start wining and dining — and they usually don’t go back on. Isn’t this a sign that mask-wearing is no longer so essential? At the very least, it sends a mixed message: If you want to be comfortable eating and drinking with your peers, it’s OK to take off your mask — but it’s not OK if you want to be comfortable serving food, carrying heavy trays and describing the dessert menu…
By now everyone must realize just how selective the enforcement of mask rules can be. If those same employees are drinking or eating together in the back room, their masks are off and everyone is fine with that. All of a sudden, the possibility of spreading a Covid infection is not such a big deal.
Many public health intellectuals and pundits may be uncomfortable with mask apartheid. But they have so strongly promoted the mask-wearing norm it is hard for them to object. They could argue that the elite guests should be required to wear their masks before and after the food and drinks are served, or even between bites, but at this point such a recommendation would be ignored.
If you read the whole piece, some of my readers will notice I am actually presenting one of the versions of Sen’s Paretian Liberal Paradox.