Complacency? COVID-19 protocol generally disregarded
Many people have dropped their guard and stopped following the COVID-19 safety protocol.
With the exception of some places such as banking halls and the offices of the telecom companies, where the protocol is enforced, at other places, such as the open markets, lorry parks and the offices of some government agencies, the protocol is hardly followed.
The general excuse is that the spread of the virus has abated and, therefore, it poses no further threat.
The monitoring of the situation by the Daily Graphic in some public facilities in Accra for one week revealed that many people went about in public without face masks, while there were no handwashing facilities and sanitiser dispensers at many offices.
At other public places where washing facilities are mounted, they have become decorative items, with no water in them.
A number of private security persons placed at entrances of offices to enforce the protocol were also seen without face masks.
In some of the busy markets, including Makola, Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam Atta, as well as bus terminals such as the Neoplan Station, only a few people were in face masks.
President expressed delight
This situation comes less than two months after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had expressed delight about the way many Ghanaians were adhering to the protocols.
The President, who was delivering his 25th address to the nation on the National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 9, said: “It is gratifying to note that many Ghanaians are adhering to the protocols, and it is heartening to see the law enforcement agencies acting against persons and institutions flouting the regulations.
“Until we vaccinate the requisite numbers of Ghanaians and achieve herd immunity, which will help return our lives to normalcy, the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012), will remain in force and the security agencies will not relent in their efforts to enforce the act.”
But, after the President’s commendation, there has been a general laxity in the system, a development that poses a threat to the strides made in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, there are fears in some circles that the country could experience a third wave of active cases if the protocols continue to be disregarded.
Some traders at the Kaneshie Market said they had relaxed their adherence to the protocol because there was no authority insisting on compliance, for which reason they had assumed that the worst was over.
Others assumed that the disease was no longer in existence.
Some were of the view that the daily purchase of face masks at 50Gp per one was a drain on their pockets and suggested that the city authorities provide the people with face masks free of charge.
A tomato seller, Madam Agnes Amoakoa, said she used to strictly comply with the protocol, but quite recently she observed that there were no longer educational campaigns on radio and television and so she decided to relax with the protocol.
To her, even if the disease existed, it was not as dangerous as it used to be.
Impact on businesses
The management of some public facilities indicated that they had adopted every possible strategy, including periodic reminders to people about the protocol, to ensure their customers complied with it.
Others also disclosed that strict enforcement of the protocol was negatively impacting their business, as many customers who were turned away never returned.
Such development had compelled them to overlook the protocol to save their businesses, they said.
The manager of a phone shop at Osu, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the business lost many customers when the protocol was strictly enforced within the facility.
“This is a central business area and, therefore, the customers have many options if we turn them away. There are other shops which don’t enforce the protocol and the customers would rather go there. This was making us lose a lot of customers and that affected our business.
“Now we don’t have any challenges, since we decided to forgo the enforcement and rather protect our staff. People now find it easy to enter our shops and our business is back on track,” he added.
The Manager of the Circle Branch of the GCB Bank, Mrs Amy Dzandu, said the bank had never relented in ensuring that both customers and staff were protected against the virus.
Explaining, she said the bank’s security had been tasked to always ensure that every person who entered the premises had his or her nose mask on and also washed his or her hands before being granted entry into the banking hall.
Additionally, she said, there was hand sanitiser at every nook and cranny of the facility to ensure regular disinfection of hands.
She noted that the success of the business was very important, but the safety of customers and staff could not be ignored.