Editor's Comment

Sanction unmasked

GOVERNMENT says it is consulting on the possibility of enacting a law to criminalise failure by some people to wear face masks in public places to improve adherence.
Government is concerned, and rightly so, that despite the high number of cases being recorded on daily basis, people seem unmoved as they wander about in public places without masks.
Cumulatively, cases have passed the 60,000 mark with 824 deaths. Yesterday 1, 424 new cases and 16 deaths were recorded.
At the global level, there are over 105 million cases with 2.28 million deaths.
Currently, both traditional and online media are awash with news on people who are infected or have succumbed to the disease.
With the second wave, there have been more deaths with a number of notable names giving up on life due to the pandemic. Some of the people include the clergy and political figures.
On several occasions, we have had videos of COVID patients making rounds on social media sharing traumatic experiences in isolation centres and warning on the dangers of the disease.
One would have thought that messages on traumatic experiences by COVID patients, updates on the number of infections and deaths of known people are enough to compel the public to adhere to COVID regulations.
We would have thought that by now, masking up, sanitising and social distancing have become a conditioned reflex among people considering that COVID has been with us for almost a year.
It beats our logic to see adults in particular expose their lives and those of others with impunity.
Not too long ago, we saw how people were fished out of bars where they were found flouting COVID prevention guidelines with impunity.
The transporters and bus drivers in particular have remained defiant overloading buses and ignoring sanitising and masking up rules.
Today, buses operate as though there is no COVID.
Some traders, especially those in markets, go about selling their merchandise without paying particular attention to health regulations. Some of them actually contend that COVID only affects the elite.
With such mind-sets, we are far from winning the battle against COVID.
While police and council officials have tried to enforce these regulations, they have been limited by lack of legal backing.
For instance, the police had started charging people for not wearing masks in public but had to stop because they had no legal backing.
As things are now, Government and law enforcers can only appeal to the public to observe COVID regulations. Perhaps this is why some people have adopted a laissez faire attitude towards COVID regulations. Some people mask up as and when they feel like while others do not mask up at all.
Going by the escalating number of cases, there is need for everyone to adhere to the set rules if the pandemic is to be put under control.
If some people are not responsible enough to safeguard life by voluntarily observing health regulations, perhaps they need to be helped. And the most effective way to do so is through stiffer laws.
It is evident from the defiant levels that sensitisations and appeals to emotional intellect have lamentably failed.
At this point, perhaps, Government is left with no option but learn from other countries that have criminalised non-compliance to COVID rules.
If criminalising non-compliance to COVID rules is what will compel every citizen to sit up, then Government has no choice but to take that route.
We are talking about a pandemic that is claiming lives daily and has brought economies to their knees.
Government cannot continue to treat those who have chosen to be a danger to society with kid gloves.
Time to act is now to prevent the pandemic from getting out of hand.

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