I too questioned the wisdom of promoting a Critical Mass Ride now!
I think requiring a mention of masks and social distancing for an event to be approved is a reasonable policy. As for whether it's OK to promote large group rides during the pandemic, my sense is that these events aren't a safety hazard, as long as the vast majority of riders are masked, and people keep their distance from each other when they're not riding.
I'm basing that on the fact that this year's Black Lives Matters protests, where most people wore masks, haven't been traced to any outbreaks. Large group rides like Critical Mass, or the several recent bike events drawing hundreds of participants in Black communities on Chicago's South and West sides, involve more distancing and less hanging out in the same air space as the BLM rallies and marches.
But I'm going to try to check in with some infectious disease specialists on this subject in the near future to get their expert opinions.
Here's where some of the concern stems from - when you where a mask, you are protecting others. If someone is around you that is not wearing a mask, you are not really that protected. It is ideal to think we are all safe in the open air but many super-spreader events happened in the open air.
The second reason for this policy is that many pictures from recent rides, during the times of covid, feature many people without masks. See point #1 - if you wear a mask, you are protecting others. If you are around people without masks, you are not as protected as you hope to be.
If those people are not wearing a mask and are talking, breathing with their mouths open, etc. you are at higher risk. When you have larger crowds, social distancing is also a concern.
And the quarantine fatigue people are experiencing has recently become an issue - people who've been following the rules are starting to give up. Some of it is thinking they are safe because they haven't gotten sick, some of it is that they are tired of wearing masks and social distancing.
And before Critical Mass sets off, yes, people are congregating in close proximity and without masks as has been documented by the photos taken of the events. Given the life-threatening nature of Covid, I don't feel comfortable recommending rides that aren't taking the necessary precautions. Also, is it worth it doing a Critical Mass? Is it worth the risk?
Maintain a minimum of six feet of distance when riding around others.