Wearing a facemask is a pain in the neck. When I was living in Hong Kong I wore a facemask every time I went out. It was the rule. I always followed the rule because Hong Kong is a very crowded city. It is far easier to catch the coronavirus in crowded places. Now I am in the US traveling from one state to another visiting relatives. Facemasks are not required outdoors. Many states require facemasks indoors like supermarkets, shopping malls, and restaurants. That is sensible because the coronavirus can spread much easier indoors. Hong Kong University expert Benjamin Cowling told me the virus doesn't spread outdoors easily unless you are very close to an infected person who sneezes or coughs.
In the US it is no longer a pain in the neck to wear a facemask because people have a choice. The expression “a pain in the neck” is used to describe someone or something that is irritating or annoying. Many people consider wearing a facemask to be irritating. Most Americans choose not to wear a facemask outdoors because the US is not a crowded country. It is about the same size as China but has a population of 333 million compared to China’s population of 1.4 billion. This means most Americans don’t live very close to each other except in crowded cities such as New York.
If you live in the suburbs, like most people do, the houses are far apart and you are not close to anyone. The word “suburb” means a less populated area outside a city where most people live. Wearing a facemask in the suburbs when no one is near you outdoors makes a mockery of wearing facemasks. To “make a mockery of” something means to make it seem foolish or absurd. It is foolish to wear a facemask when no one is near you. All my relatives live in the suburbs. I often go for morning walks in nearby parks without a facemask because the parks are almost empty.
戴口罩這回事真是令人討厭（a pain in the neck）。我還在香港居住時，每次外出必定會戴口罩，那是法例規定的。我總是會依從規定，因為香港是個非常擠逼的城市。在人口密集的地方，感染新冠病毒就容易得多。現在我身處美國，穿州過省的探訪親戚。在戶外地方，並無規定要戴口罩。許多州份都規定要在室內戴口罩，例如超市、商場和餐廳。這是合理的，因為新冠病毒更易在室內環境傳播。香港大學專家高本恩曾跟我說，病毒在戶外不那麼容易傳播，除非一名受感染的患者打噴嚏或咳嗽之際，你跟那人非常靠近。
在美國，戴口罩不再那麼煩人（a pain in the neck），因為人們可以有戴不戴的選擇。習語“a pain in the neck”是用來形容某人或某事很惹人惱怒或生厭。許多人認為戴口罩是令人煩躁的。大部份美國人在戶外也決定不戴口罩，因為美國並不是一個擠逼的國家，它的面積跟中國差不多一樣大，但相對於中國十四億人口，它卻只有三億三千三百萬人口。這即是說，除了一些擁擠的城市如紐約，大部份美國人彼此之間並不是住得那麼近。
若你如大部份的美國人一樣住在郊區（suburbs），房屋相距很遠，你跟其他人不是那麼接近。Suburb是解人口密度低的市郊，許多人都住在這些地區。在市郊（suburbs），當你附近一個人也沒有，卻還在戴口罩的話，就令戴口罩顯得十分荒謬（makes a mockery of）。To “make a mockery of” something即是令某事物顯得愚笨或荒唐可笑。當你附近完全沒有人，而你還在戴口罩，就是相當愚蠢的事。我的所有親戚都住在市郊（suburbs），我常常早上到附近的公園散步，也不戴口罩，因為那些公園幾乎都是空無一人。中譯：七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧