Student Joni Visser wants the mask mandate to return: ‘It’s a small effort’

07 Sep 2021

Law student Joni Visser (25) doesn’t like that many people are going to the hairdresser or supermarket without a mask again. He created the Mondkapjes Helpen (Masks Help) foundation to stimulate the use of masks. It led to Sywert van Lienden blocking him.

Why did you create this foundation?

‘When the mask mandate was lifted in June, I thought it was going to quickly. Look around us. They’re a lot stricter with masks in France. They’re even wearing FFP2 masks in Germany (which are primarily worn by first responders in the Netherlands, red.).’

What do you want to accomplish?

‘That everyone who can and wants to wear masks will wear them again voluntarily in places where it helps, as long as there is no mask mandate. If everyone does this, it helps prevent infections. I hope that the government reinstates a mask mandate in all public buildings.’

‘I was allowed to ask Marc van Ranst a question during College Tour’

What’s your process?

‘I’m addicted to Twitter. I try to spread the message of this foundation to as many as possible on that platform. Sometimes I start discussions. I was present at College Tour with the Flemish virologist Marc van Ranst (it will be broadcasted on Tuesday evening, red.), where I was allowed to ask him a question about the use of masks.’

The use of masks is not undisputed. Even Jaap van Dissel wasn’t a fan of using them for a long time.

‘I’d rather trust the WHO. Even Marion Koopmans recently said in Op1 that it’s wise to wear them in busy places. Not everyone is vaccinated after all. It’s a small effort to better protect these people by wearing a mask. Those new variants are scary, and a vaccination doesn’t fully protect us unfortunately.

What motivates you? Creating a foundation is a rather large step.

‘Fortunately, I don’t know any people who have been hit by covid in my area. But you can’t avoid the covid patients in the news. I also read lots of stories of people with lung covid on Twitter. If I can help combat the spread, I’m glad to do it. If my foundation could contribute to a mere 0.1% percent decrease of infections, I’d be happy.

‘I’ve already received my first hate messages’

What if the government reinstates a mask mandate this autumn? What will you do then?

‘Then my foundation may be able to go dormant. But perhaps there are other roles for me. I could hand out masks at food banks, for example. But then I’d have to raise sponsor money first to pay for the masks.’

Why did you need a foundation? You can also spread your message as an individual.

‘I look more professional this way. It also helps that I put a lot of time and effort into it. I can’t go back. In addition, creating a foundation is a fun learning process, even if it costs a lot of money. I just came back from the notary.’

What kind of responses do you get?

‘Mainly positive ones, for example the director of the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam. That motivates me enormously. I’ve already received my first hate messages. And I’ve been blocked by Sywert van Lienden on Twitter, after I asked him if he could make some more masks available. That was a highlight.’

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