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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

The Elite Are Unmasked. What About Those Who Serve Them?

As the wealthy take off their masks to attend dinners and conferences, waiters and staff are still forced to wear masks.

Do they have to wear them too?

Do they have to wear them too?

Photographer: Andrea Merola/Bloomberg

I am increasingly disturbed by what I call “mask apartheid.” If you have attended a conference or public event recently, you may have noticed it: The wealthier attendees are not usually wearing masks, but the poorer servers and staff almost always are.

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.