The most significant feature of the President’s conversation with his compatriots last Sunday was the directive on the mandatory use of the face mask.
For a long time, since the commencement of the now fortnight conversations on the state of COVID-19 in the country by him, we have longed for this measure. Now, it has come to pass ‒ and all we can do is recall the dictum ‘better late than never’.
Equally exhilarating is the order to law enforcement officers to ensure that all persons use the face mask when they are outside their houses. There could not have been a better directive considering the efficacy of the shield in checking the transmission of the infection.
Had we applied this rule from the beginning and enforcing same with the necessary vigour and commitment, the gains would have been phenomenal.
For success in this direction it is important for citizens to understand adequately why they are being forced to use the masks. It is when they understand its importance, policing them in that regard would not even be necessary. The contrary is a situation where people not understanding the importance of the shield would put it on just because they want to avoid the inconvenience of being arrested.
Many persons in town clearly hang the shield away from their nostrils and mouths, making nonsense of the objective of it.
People must be compelled to use the masks properly, failure to so which should attract sanctions. Many Ghanaians are not taking the protocols seriously enough, especially the face masks.
With the experience in the failure of forcing motorcyclists to use helmets, we are hesitant in asserting that there would not be challenges in enforcing the face mask protocol.
There are others who unfortunately must be told to wash their masks daily and not to them repeatedly without washing them.
Many drivers of commercial commuters or ‘trotro’ need lessons on being neat and to understand the importance of being neat about their masks.
With a dearth of cops to enforce the directives on the protocols, the necessary enforcement would certainly not be a walk on the park. Perhaps the Motor Traffic & Transport Department (MTTD) cops should be tasked to do more.
Checkpoints on selected roads with a high frequency of commercial commuters should also be considered if we want to make headway in policing the use of face masks and the adherence to the other protocols.
Social activities in the past few weeks have witnessed major breaches, and unless something is done about the irresponsibility being exhibited, the healthy new normal would suffocate.