Resolve the impasse over wearing of facemask in public places

The wearing of face mask in public places as part of measures to diminish the transmission of COVID-19 is now obligatory and backed by law with sanctions for persons who do not comply.

The compulsory wearing of mask which forms part of the Imposition of Restrictions Executive Instrument (E.I) 2020 (E.I 164) which spells out this obligation derives it power from The Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012).

The first regulation of the E.I requires a person to wear a facemask, face shield or any other face covering that conceals the nose and mouth completely when that person is in a public place or leaving or returning to his place of abode.

However, the definition of public place has become a bone of contention between owners of private vehicles and the police.

According to the drivers, once they are alone in their vehicles, there is no need to wear facemask but the police maintain that once the vehicle is in public, the driver contravenes the law if they do not wear the mask.

Let us view the situation in a different scenario. Does it mean that the police could arrest people who are not wearing mask in their house? This is one of the many questions that have been asked by many people.

From the perspective of the Ghanaian Times, the confusion is rather defeating the purpose of the otherwise important regulation that would significantly help derail the spread of the virus.

Thus we share in the view of some lawyers that there is the urgent need for the government to define public place so the country can concentrate on compliance with the law, which is already low.

Indeed many people do not wear the mask appropriately. Some people wear personal safety gear either on the chin or on their mouth alone, leaving the nose, thus, exposing them to danger.

It is worrying to note that some commercial drivers only wear their mask when they sight security officers.

This is a clear sign that the country already has enough problems to resolve with the wearing of the facemask and must therefore not allow the interpretation of the law to compound it.

At the press briefing this week, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah announced that the government has initiated an engagement with the police service to find a purposive interpretation to the law.

We hope this would lay to rest the confusion that has been created.

While at it, there is also the need to increase public education on the wearing of the mask. Beyond complying with the law, the citizenry must understand why they need to wear the mask.

The Ghanaian Times is playing its role in the campaign by dedicating part of our front page to face mask education and we urge all stakeholders to step up their game.

With the COVID-19 cases hovering above 15,000, we cannot take precautionary measures for granted.

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