Yesterday I flew from Hobart to Flinders Island. Until then, the only time I wore a mask was on the few occasions that I used a sanding machine.

One of the signs around Tasmanian airports

Everyone in the Hobart airport terminal is wearing a face mask. This is unusual for Tasmania where we have been fortunate not to have to endure the lockdowns experienced on the mainland.

I find the mask I have on to be uncomfortable in the extreme. With every exhaling of breath, my glasses fog up, and I can feel perspiration gathering around my nose, mouth and cheeks. I am struggling to fight off the feeling of claustrophobia that threatens to overwhelm me.

I watch a woman my age as she rips off her mask on reaching the exit. She is complaining to her male partner ‘no-one is going to make me sit with this mask for the next five hours’. He walks ahead of her, and his mask is in place on his face. I watch them through the glass doors as they both take deep, unfettered breaths without their masks on. As soon as I have checked in my baggage, I will endeavour to resist the urge to follow suit.

Instead, I join the others in the queue to clear our hand luggage through security. Everyone looks confused and struggling to communicate through their masks. I commiserate about the wearing of masks with the man screening people who walk through the x-ray machine.

He responds with ‘thanks, you don’t get used to them easily, especially when you have a black eye like mine!’ he leans towards me and points at a beautiful shiner above his right eye. ‘Funny how everyone thinks I got it from my wife though‘ he says as I get moved forward by the security people, so don’t hear the rest of his story.

I have trouble hearing in crowded places with announcements and noise, and I realise how much I rely on body language to hear what people are saying.

I begin to feel alienated because I cannot see if people are smiling or not.

Most people check through the boarding gates with their phones, and there seems to be minimal communication.

Everyone silently moving to destinations unknown to me.

The Sharp Airlines flight to Whitemark is called. As there are only 17 of us flying to Flinders Island, we chat amongst ourselves while waiting in the queue.
Everyone is complaining about their mask and how strange it all feels. The trip to Flinders Island takes about three-quarters of an hour.

Masks are worn in flight and only removed once we are clear of the terminal building.

The Flinders Island airport signs seem less confronting somehow

Covid-19 has caused a surge in tourism to Finders Island, both from mainland Australia and Tasmania. People who usually travel overseas are discovering the wonders of this beautiful place.
We are fortunate to be able to dispense with the wearing of masks once clear of the airport terminal.

Except for the signing into places with name and contact phone numbers, it is almost ‘business as usual’ here on Flinders Island.

Usually, my partner and I are cruising around the South Pacific and consider ourselves lucky to be ‘stranded’ in Tasmania since Covid-19.

After my short experience wearing a face mask, my heart goes out to all the people around the world who have to endure the wearing of full PPE every single day.

Thank you to everyone who continues to do this every day to help the world’s citizens recover from this pandemic.