News Policy

Mask Policy Update May 2023

Dear OMA community and friends,                                                        

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

As you may know, OMA has continued to wear face masks when working in person at the Hall. As an organisation whose fundamental infrastructure was built up during the height of the pandemic, the protection of our community’s health and the accessibility of our working space has always been and remains a priority.

Over the past year or so, the question of whether to continue to wear masks at the Hall has been the subject of a lot of discussion, with strong feelings on both sides! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to voice their opinion, whether at the Hall, at a Hall meeting or via the two surveys that have taken place.

Unfortunately, it has been impossible to approach this issue via consensus-based decision making or a majority-vote system. The most recent survey that took place had a near 50-50 split between those who would like to continue wearing masks while working at the Hall, and those who would not. We would also like to acknowledge that there are structural inequalities that undermine and dismiss the wishes of those with hidden disabilities or long-term health conditions, and that these may prevent people from voicing their opinion, particularly publicly. We believe that OMA should be the kind of organisation where the power dynamics caused by structural inequalities in the wider world, and which also affect us internally, should be recognised openly and honestly.

We propose that masks continue to be worn at the Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays will be days when masks are not required, but can be worn if desired. We hope that this system will enable those for whom the current mask policy is a fundamental aspect of their experience at OMA to continue to contribute, while also making space for those for whom the current mask policy is not working.

We aim to trial this new system for three months, starting from the week beginning the 8th of May. At the end of these three months, there will be an opportunity for us all to meet to discuss how the new system is working, whether any unforeseen issues have arisen and whether we would like to make any changes.

OMA stands in solidarity with all those who have been marginalised by public institutions and healthcare systems, by workplaces and by social spaces due to an unjust lack of accessibility. It is important to acknowledge all the ways in which OMA unhappily contributes to dynamics that privilege those who are able-bodied, and reaffirm our commitment to making sure not only that OMA remains accessible, but radically improves in this area.

Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to this process. It has been difficult at times but together we can make community-centered decisions that reflect what we want the world to look like!

So much love and solidarity,

OMA Team