Despite government’s directives for businesses of all sizes to observe outlined COVID-19 protocols – such as wearing face masks, washing hands, the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, among others – some workers in the informal sector have disregarded such measures, as they think the disease is no longer spreading as fast as before.
Observations made by the B&FT have revealed that compared to most businesses in the formal sector that are complying with the safety protocols by displaying ‘no mask no entry’ posts on their walls – providing water-filled Veronica-buckets and soap at their entrances for hand washing, or making available hand sanitisers – those in the informal sector such as provision shops, fruit-stalls, food vendors, used-clothes sellers and other petty-trading shops do not have such facilities at their places of operation any more.
And even for some of the businesses that have Veronica-buckets placed at their entrances, customers who walk past them are allowed entry into the shops without questioning or a reminder from the owners to wash their hands.
Adwoa Mansa, a shop attendant who wants her business to remain anonymous, in an interview with the B&FT said, for her, the virus no longer exists; hence, her decision not to observe the safety protocols or even take the vaccine.
“I do not see why I should continue wearing a nose mask when the virus is not even real. How many people have you seen with the virus? Has there been any more information on spread of the virus like before?
“This shows that government has just been playing with our emotions and wants to keep us from doing things the way we used to. I will not wear any nose mask; and that vaccine they keep talking about, I will not take it. I heard the other day that someone took and died, so I will not take it; it is of no benefit to me,” she said.
A fruit vendor in West-Legon, a suburb of Accra, Eno Mary, said she is fully-vaccinated and as such sees no need to keep observing the protocols.
“We have been wearing the mask to prevent the virus, but now that I have been fully-vaccinated I do not see why I should wear the mask. Am I not protected against the virus now? There are many people I board the trotro [public transport] with who do not wear masks, and I am sure they are not vaccinated. So, what prevents me – who is fully vaccinated, from also not wearing the mask?” she said.
One of the customers who disregarded the safety protocols when entering a shop in another suburb in Accra, Dome Pillar 2, told the B&FT he sees no need to wear a face mask or wash his hands when he is just purchasing something from a shop close to his house.
“I often do not wear the mask when I am in my neighbourhood; I just stepped out of my house and will be back home in a matter of three minutes, so I do not see why I should wear it. If I were going to a crowded place, I would definitely wear it; but since I am close to home, I can wash my hand before stepping out; I can quickly get what I want across the street, I am not going to spend the whole day there,” he said.
Meanwhile, contrary to the perception that the number of active cases is declining, data from the Ghana Health Service show an increasing trend. As of July 9, 2021, active cases had hit 2,314. In all, 97,728 people have been infected with the disease within the stated period, with 802 deaths. And more than 852,000 vaccines had been administered as of May 7, 2021.
This shows government must do more on education and sensitisation to alert, especially, those in the informal sector that the virus is real and still deadly; and as such, they must support the fight against it.