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Ibadan residents decry continue enforcement of face masks by business operators

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Some residents of Ibadan, Oyo State capital and its environs, have expressed their displeasure over the continued enforcement of face masks used by business operators.

They expressed their feelings in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Ibadan, over the continued enforcement of COVID-19-related “no mask, no entry” by business operators within the Ibadan metropolis.

NAN gathered that local businesses within the metropolis, including banks and shopping malls, are still forcing their customers to use face masks.

It was further gathered that many people were no longer interested in using face masks in public places since the country had continued to witness a drop in the number of daily reported cases of COVID-19.

NAN reports that many business operators in Ibadan are still enforcing the use of face masks in public places, barely two months after the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 declared that it was no longer compulsory.

The Federal Government had on March 31, said that the wearing of face masks in public places was no longer compulsory, as efforts were being made to ease up COVID-19 restrictions across the country.

Dr Muktar Muhammed, Head of the Technical Secretariat, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, had in Abuja, said that a final decision would be taken on the relaxation of COVID-19 measures.

Commenting, Mrs Atinuke Atilola, a civil servant, said that many businesses had refused to stop the use of mask policies, thus making it frustrating to patronise such businesses.

“I went to one of the old generation banks without my face mask, well aware of the Federal Government’s directive on masks wearing.

“Others and I, were prevented from gaining entrance into the banking hall without putting on our face masks.

“It is, even, more surprising after entering the bank to see that people had already pulled the masks below their chins and continued with their transactions.

“So, what is the purpose of asking for face coverings before entering and removing it once you are inside.

“Many of their workers too are also not using these face coverings. Why are they trying to frustrate us?,” he said.

Also, Funke Wale, a university student, said that many businesses continue to take matters into their own hands by requiring for face coverings, thereby shunning the Federal Government’s directive.

“Some of those businesses have seen the continued use of masks as a money spinning venture for them.

“Because, if you go to such places without your masks, their security will be the ones offering to sell the masks to you at outrageous prices,” Wale said.

Also, a Virologist, Dr Olubusuyi Adewumi, said that the decision to continue to enforce the use of masks was not guided by science.

Adewumi of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said that people were not educted on the proper use of the masks.

“Unfortunately, personnel usually responsible for the enforcement of the directive don’t have any reason than ‘it is an order from the management’.

“For me as a virologist, our decisions are usually not guided by scientific finds. So, wearing of face masks will fade away over time.

“We are always eager to copy the western world without allowing home-based evaluation of the findings

“Our investment was more on the importation of ideas and vaccines,” he said.

Also, a public health physician, Dr Temitope Hussein, said it was wrong for those business centres to make face coverings compulsory after the Federal Government had advised that their use in public places was no longer compulsory.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Oyo State branch, said it supoorted the Federal Government’s decision on suspension of the use of nose masks in public places.

Its Chairman, Dr Ayotunde Fasunla, said that the rules on use of face masks have not been completely abolished by the government.

Fasunla said that the use of masks was still required in certain high-risk settings, including hospitals.

According to him, continue enforcement of use of masks mandate by some of the businesses is discretional and they cannot not be forced to drop the mask-wearing policy.

“Many of these businesses have retained the mask-wearing policy, because of the need to protect, not only their customers, but also their employees.

“It is probable that in the past, such businesses might have been affected by COVID-19.

“If a shopper does not feel comfortable patronising such business, they can go to other shops that offer similar services and products.

“NMA’s advice to the the whole community is that we should not let down our guard against COVID-19; it is still ongoing with different unknown variants.

“We should not forget the importance of taking reasonable precautions and preventive measures to protect ourselves and others,” he said.

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