Column 1192 Thur July 7
When I returned to the US last August most American states required facemasks in indoor places such as cinemas, restaurants, and public transport. Many people chose to wear facemasks outdoors but some refused even indoors. It became a political issue. It’s been almost a year since I returned. The difference between last August and now is striking. The word “striking” used this way means very noticeable. You would be hard-pressed to find someone wearing a facemask in the US nowadays. The expression “hard-pressed” used this way means having difficulties. It would be difficult to find anyone in the US wearing facemasks nowadays because they are no longer mandatory (required by rules) indoors or outdoors.
When I flew back to Manhattan from San Diego the flight attendant announced facemasks were no longer mandatory. It was a long flight so I wore mine after dinner just in case. Some states, such as New York, still have local laws requiring masks on public transport but many people ignore them. I no longer wear my mask indoors because I have taken four Pfizer/BioNTech shots. I only wear a mask when I go to New York supermarkets because they are very crowded, unlike supermarkets in other states. The daily infection in the US is about 0.02 percent of the population of 334 million. The daily infection in Hong Kong is also about 0.02 percent of the population of 7.4 million.
But the two places have very different rules. Americans are living like there is no tomorrow. Flights are fully booked. Restaurants are fully booked. The expression “like there is no tomorrow” means to do things quickly without thinking or planning. Hong Kong people cannot live like there is no tomorrow because if they go on vacation they must quarantine when they return. The whole world, except Hong Kong and mainland China, has decided to move on because zero Covid is impossible. To “move on” used this way means to accept a difficult situation and continue as normal because there is no other choice.
上年八月我回到美國之時，美國大部分的州分都要求市民在室內地方包括戲院、食肆和公共交通工具內戴上口罩。許多人選擇在戶外地方亦戴上口罩，但有些人就是連在室內地方也拒絕戴口罩。這變成了政治議題。我回美已接近一年了。上年八月跟現在相比，分別非常 striking—— striking在這裏的意思是「明顯的」。今時今日，你想在美國找個戴口罩的，將會很 hard-pressed——習語“hard-pressed”在這裏是指「面臨困難」。今時今日在美國實在很難可以見到有誰會戴口罩，因為室內或室外都不再強制（mandatory）戴口罩。
然而，兩地的規例大相逕庭。美國人活得像沒有明天似的（like there is no tomorrow），飛機航班都給訂滿了，餐廳也訂個滿座。習語“like there is no tomorrow”是指沒多計劃或考慮、不顧一切的拼命做事，像是機不可失似的。香港人就不能不顧一切地（like there is no tomorrow）生活了，因為若他們去旅遊，回港時必須接受隔離。除了香港和中國內地，全世界都決定 move on，因為新冠疫情清零是不可能的。To “move on”在這裏是指接受現實艱難的處境，繼續如常生活，因為已別無他選。