When this Covid-19 pandemic started the message was stay at home and wash your hands. Weeks and months passed, we all spent a large portion of our lives on the couch. Keep social distancing and keep washing your hands and face, it wasn’t really that hard to follow. Then the message changed. Stay at home turned into stay responsible. We were let out of our homes and into the daylight. Cases had fallen to almost zero. However as inevitably as night follows day the number of new cases rose again. We were in a second wave.
There was no way we could be locked away in our houses again so the next best thing was the introduction of protective face masks. Again not a particularly difficult regulation to follow. It’s not like I am digging a trench in the middle of a muddy French field in World War 1. It became clear quite quickly that face masks would be the new norm. An accessory, like our wallets or car keys, that we couldn’t leave home without. And it isn’t only us. Pretty much the whole world is now shopping or riding public transport with a mask. Again this isn’t so tough to do.
Now you can argue whether face masks actually work in stopping the spread of the virus, as recent studies have shown, but that isn’t really the whole point. At the same time of fighting a deadly virus we are also fighting an equally lethal killer, the mental health of the nation. If a face mask makes people think they are safer, and seeing other people wearing one also helps, then surely that’s a strong enough reason to make them mandatory. If people feel more secure their minds will be more at rest. It appears that we will have to wear them, to quote Minister Bozinovic, “Until a solution is found for this virus and if the scientific community does not change its opinion, then it would last until the end of the epidemic is declared.” So get used to them.
And please learn how to wear them. If I had a Kuna for every time I’ve seen someone’s nose sticking out over the top of their mask I would be opening a bank account in Switzerland. It’s like saying a condom is uncomfortable and cutting the end off!
Of course I forget mine sometimes. Which got me to thinking why aren’t shops, and indeed shopping centres, offering masks for sale for people who forgot. The masks, which should be produced in Croatia, could be on sale for a special price, with half of the income going to the manufacturer and the other half to a local charity or humanitarian cause.
It is a win/win/win situation, a) someone has a face mask, b) the Croatian companies that produced the masks have earned money and created jobs and c) a worthy cause has received much needed funds. Of course these masks would be free of PDV, and a local designer could even create funky looking ones or take a lesson from the Rovinj Tourist Board. Creativity doesn’t cost a lot of money. Having an idea and the determination to produce results is much more important. Whilst other tourist boards have been throwing money in various directions, not really knowing why, just desperate to be seen to be doing something, Rovinj played it simple and won. They created special protective face masks with a nice design of Rovinj on them and a positive message, and then handed them out to restaurants, cafes and tourist agencies. This was really a minimum investment but the results were spectacular. Pretty soon the world’s media discovered the humble plan and just as quickly people all over the world were reading about how (and I quote) a “picturesque Croatian coastal city helps to protect their guests from Covid-19.” Hats off to Rovinj!
Now let’s connect the dots. A Dubrovnik based company produces Dubrovnik inspired face masks (with a motivational slogan in different languages) that are available for sale at all major tourist points in the city with signs clearly indicating that half of the money from the sale goes to a local charity. It isn’t that difficult really. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while,” exactly right Mr Steve Jobs.