COVID-19 and the barefaced fan
It is nearly one year since the government imposed a ban on sports – occasioned by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, the year 2020, will go down as the most disquieting period in the life of sportsmen and women the world over as sporting activities grinded to a pitiable halt.
The repercussion on the actors of the game was devastatingly fatal. And, we might be journeying that path again if we continue to take things lying low as regards obeying the safety protocols.
Most parts of Europe are today experiencing a new surge in coronavirus cases, apparently because many people have taken things all-too easy – rendering the initial success in the fight against the virus, almost feckless.
Last week, the UK Government directed that everyone in England must stay at home except for permitted reasons during a new coronavirus lockdown expected to last until mid-February. All schools and colleges have closed to most pupils and switch to remote learning; though football was absolved but with some stiff restrictions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the coming weeks would be the “hardest yet” amid surging cases and patient numbers.
The situation in Ghana appears to be getting worse too after the initial marked improvement that convinced government to relax the Covid restrictions imposed on sports.
As of January 13, 2021, confirmed cases of COVID-19 had hit 56,230 with 338 deaths, 336 casualties and 54,438 recoveries in the country. In April, last year, overall cases reached its highest at 55,772 and it was the reason for the three-week lockdown imposed in Accra, Tema and Kumasi – sports activities having been frozen a month earlier.
If the situation does not improve; if we continue to live our lives recklessly, it would come as no surprise should the government contemplate another lockdown.
Of course, locking down again is not something we should or would be excited about – aware of its torturing socio-economic consequences.
Sadly, if the government has no choice, it would be forced to make the Hobson’s decision in a desperate bid to save the rest of the populace.
That is why the sporting public, especially, must be on the qui vive and ensure that all the safety measures are strictly adhered to.
It is sad that most of our football fans seemed to have jettisoned the safety protocols as you see them barefaced even as they make their way into the stadium. These fans scream, shout, howl, hug and tease opposing fans or even blow kisses at their co-club fans in celebration of a goal. Clearly, the safety protocols have been thrown to the dogs.
“Many people do not realise that their safety – our safety, has become our personal responsibility. Those who do realise it wear masks, but others are going about life as though everything is normal,” says 34-year-old football fan, after watching a division one game between Danbort FC and Okyeman Planners at Nungua – an Accra suburb, last weekend.
On January 6, this year, the government of Ghana lifted the restrictions on football to allow fans to the stadium to watch the Ghana leagues with a capacity of 25 per cent.
“… seating at all stadia will be limited to 25 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing, whilst wearing of masks by spectators at stadia will be mandatory.”
Evidently, this is not what we often see at out stadia as social distancing is entirely ignored by the fans as the authorities watch on – either gleefully – or helplessly.
Hitherto, Ghanaian clubs were playing behind closed doors but a strong passionate appeal from the public and the Football Association to allow the fans back, may have done a lot in government’s decision to relax the restrictions. Failing to adhere to the safety protocols, therefore, is like stabbing the government in the back!
Now, certain precautions no longer remain obligatory to the fans: wearing masks before and after entering into stadium, keeping two-metre distances, washing of hands with soap and use of alcohol-based sanitisers, among others, have been discarded with careless abandon.
Perhaps, there has to be sustained, intensive education by club owners and administrators on the need to obey the existing safety and hygiene protocols. The fight must be a holistic and exhaustive one – and waged by everybody who cares for the future of the country – and the world at large.
Always remember that this is not a fight for government alone! Let us live responsibly, for we all have a duty to fight on and educate everybody on the fatality of the virus.
PlainTalk with JOHN VIGAH