ON our way to the east coast of Yorkshire for a two-day break, my wife and I stopped at McDonald’s in Knaresborough for a cup of tea. The place was busy and nobody was wearing masks – except for the staff. You could see them in the kitchen bustling about, looking decidedly uncomfortable with their muzzles restricting their breathing. There was, however, a cordoned-off ‘staff rest area’ and two unmasked individuals were taking advantage of it.
As we sat down near this area with our 99p cups of PG Tips, one smart young man got up from his seat, donned a mask and walked toward the kitchen. ‘Excuse me,’ I ventured, ‘I hope you don’t think me impolite but I was wondering how the staff are coping wearing those masks all day long.’ The ice was broken; the chap turned out to be a senior employee and we had a fantastic exchange.
It turns out that McDonald’s keep their mask policy under constant review, staff are allowed an input and every four weeks or so the guidelines may be changed. This manager was well aware of the dangers of masks, both short term and long term, and dropped his muzzle to show me a rash all around his mouth with the words ‘I’m not the only one suffering from this.’
He then told me about the stocks of masks the Knaresborough branch carried in their store room and I had to ask him to repeat it because to me it seemed unbelievable. ‘We have 50,000 masks. They are in batches of 100 and boxes of 500 and we have a room full.’ I asked how many masks each employee would get through in a day and he said they usually wore only one per shift but could get another if the first became dirty. I didn’t query the definition of ‘dirty’. I wished him well and he thanked me for my interest.
I really couldn’t get my head around this number of 50,000. Knaresborough isn’t that big a branch. But it got me thinking. McDonald’s has 1,250 branches in the UK, and worldwide there are more than 38,000 outlets serving 69million people every day. If every branch has a stockpile of 50,000 masks that equates to 62.5million in the UK and 1.9billion (that’s 1,900,000,000) across the world. And don’t forget we are talking about only one company!
Can you imagine the mega numbers involved when you consider the restaurant and takeaway industry across the globe all using these face nappies? And can you comprehend the numbers of masks finding their way from China to all parts of the planet to support this demand on the back of Covid? And where are all these masks destined to end up?
During our short trip we visited Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington, a premier nesting grounds for gannets and other seabirds in the UK. One of the information boards provided by the RSPB explained how the population of fulmars was seriously in decline because of the numbers of plastic bags polluting the oceans. Apparently, the fulmars can’t tell the difference between their shrimp like food and plastic bags and ingest them with fatal results. Well, in terms of global pollution, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! It wouldn’t surprise me if the number of discarded masks is becoming so serious that the earth may be in danger of tilting on its axis! An exaggeration, maybe, but here’s the obvious question: where is David Attenborough when you need him?
Clearly Covid-19 is brilliant for the super-rich. The old saying ‘Follow the money’ is truer today than it has ever been. If you still cling to the notion that Covid-19 is akin to the Black Death, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Covid-19 is a propaganda-led, mental construct designed to frighten and control the population of the world so that wealth can be siphoned off from the billions to the very few who already have the most. When you see it writ large with figures like these it makes your eyes water at the sheer scale of it all.