Big Idea of the Week: Wearing Face Masks in Public Places is a Must

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    Big Idea is No Mask? No Go

    By Amin Kef Sesay

    This week, 30th August – 5th September 2020, the Big Idea is No Mask? No Go.  It is important to underscore that we must continue the practice of wearing face masks in public places. The wearing of face masks in public places, especially at this crucial moment when the world is battling with the corona virus cannot be overemphasized. It is one of the precautionary measures that must be adhered to by all and sundry to prevent the spread of the virus.

    As a matter of fact it is deemed illegal for members of the public to deliberately refuse to wear face masks in public places and as such is punishable by law.

    Masks keep transport running and safe for all Transport unions and drivers, let’s come together in solidarity and say no to any passenger not wearing a face mask. One person without a mask is a risk to all. If all drivers refuse to take any passenger who is not wearing a face mask, then passengers will know they cannot move without a mask.

    Your mask is your safety ticket for transport! Taking only passengers with face mask helps avoid delays by law enforcement and fines. Taking less passengers and having to pay fines for taking passengers without face masks are making it challenging for some drivers to stay in business. Let’s make sure we all wear our face masks to keep transport running smoothly and safe for all.

    When using transport, passengers put their safety in drivers’ hands – safety from accidents and from coronavirus. All drivers and passengers deserve safe transport! Corona fet na we all fet! Suggestions for people to interview Heads of transport unions, Drivers, Police officers, people who have had COVID-19, Community leaders.

    Suggestions for questions for interviews and panel discussions: Why should we wear face masks correctly when taking transport? Why is it important for all drivers to refuse passengers who are not wearing a mask?  What can we do if a driver/other passengers are not wearing a mask correctly? What challenges might you face when taking transport if not everyone is wearing a mask?  What role does everyone (drivers, passengers, law enforcement) play in making sure we keep transport running smoothly and safely for all?

    Additional messages For Drivers/Operators: Most of us use transport at some point. That means you may be riding with others who are more likely to get seriously sick from coronavirus including older people and people with other health conditions. You will make your job easier and your life safer by refusing all passengers who are not wearing a mask.

    Local transport drivers and law enforcement should work together in busy areas to make sure only passengers with mask board transport. If you allow people to board your vehicle, bike or keke without face masks, you are putting everyone’s health at risk. Other passengers depend on you to protect their safety and only take passengers with masks. Drivers should continue to help passengers keep a distance from others while on board.

    Remember coronavirus spreads from person to person so putting space between people will make it harder for the virus to spread. For Passengers Always put on a cloth face mask when leaving your home and keep it on correctly when using public transport and riding in any private vehicle with more than one person. Without a mask, a driver has the right to refuse to take you. Your mask is your safety ticket for transport! Without a mask, both you and the driver can be fined.

    Getting stopped by the police also can make you late and create stress. Wearing your mask will keep you moving and avoid stress. If a vehicle pulls over to pick you, but the driver or others are not wearing a mask, it is okay to say you will wait for the next vehicle. “Yu nor mask, ar nor go!”

    You have a responsibility to always wear a mask to protect fellow passengers. You don’t know if they have other health conditions that can make them more likely to get seriously sick if they get the virus.

    Wearing a mask every time you are riding in any form of public transport helps protect you and helps protect others. For everyone Let’s make sure coronavirus does not travel between us by washing our hands frequently with soap and water, wearing masks correctly by covering our noses and mouths, keeping distance from each other in transport, and staying home and calling 117 if you have fever, tiredness, and cough. Wearing a mask can help stop the spread of coronavirus, but only if it is used correctly by covering your mouth and nose. So please let us wear our face masks over our noses and mouths at all times in public.

    GoSL Enhanced COVID-19 Prevention Measures for local transport while the inter-district lockdown has been lifted, the earlier changes to operating and using public transport to help keep us all safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus remain in place. All transport parks must have hand washing stations.

    Use them to wash your hands when entering and leaving the park and before getting into any vehicle. All drivers, including okada and kekeh drivers, should carry and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% base alcohol. All kinds of motor transport will continue to help passengers keep distance from others. Coronavirus spreads from person to person so putting space between people will make it harder for the virus to spread.

    Taxis will continue to be limited to three passengers at a time (one front, two at the back seat).  Kekehs will continue to be limited to two passengers at a time.  In poda-podas and buses, there will continue to be no middle row seat and no standing.

    Ferries and boats must not carry more than half of their normal capacity of passengers at a time. Less people on board gives passengers room to keep safe distance of at least one meter, or arms-stretched length, from others. Always put on a cloth face mask when leaving your home and keep it on correctly when using public transport and riding in any private vehicle with more than one person.

    Wearing a cloth mask can help stop the spread of coronavirus but only if it is used correctly by covering your mouth and nose. Remember – coronavirus is not spread from our chins; it is spread from our noses and mouths. So please let us wear our cloth face masks over our nose and mouths at all times in public.

    Anyone using public transport, including drivers, who is not wearing a mask, may be fined one hundred thousand Leones (Le100, 000) or detained by police.

    If a driver or passenger is found not wearing a mask for a second time, the vehicle will be seized. All seized motorbikes and tricycles may be reclaimed on payment of a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand Leones (Le250, 000) and one million Leones for cars and buses (Le1,000,000). If a vehicle is not reclaimed within one month, it will be permanently impounded and disposed of.

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