PEOPLE have reacted differently to compulsory wearing of face masks in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano had during his 5th special broadcast to update citizens of COVID-19 announced easing of the lockdown with a condition that wearing of face masks would be compulsory.
While the leadership of all 63 markets and churches in the state welcomed the decision after closed door meetings with government, the actual implementation appear to be generating negative reactions.
A visit to some churches has shown that the officials were encountering difficulties in getting some people to adhere to the directive, with some deviants insisting that it is not natural to wear mask in this part of the world.
At St. John’s Methodist Church, Obosi, information officers out on a monitoring mission found out that many of the congregants did not wear the masks.
Some who had the masks did not wear them properly but under their jaws, just to give impressions that they had complied by acquiring the masks.
When confronted, Mr Emmanuel Ogbu a member of the Church said: “we are Christians, how do they expect us to cover our noses and mouths and still be comfortable in them.
“I am losing my breath whenever I wear the face mask.”
Mrs Joy Eziokwu, another member, a trader said: “even though I cover my nose and mouth at the market on daily basis due to the nature of my business, but not in church.
“Yes, I cover my nose and mouth at the market because I vend dry pepper but not in the church, where my God will protect me from any virus,” she insisted.
Those at Amazing Grace Anglican Church, Obosi see the mask as virus itself as appreciable number of the members did not wear the masks while the service was ongoing.
Mrs Ebere Ama and Joe Nwankwo were of the opinion that they did not want to wear masks. “it makes us uncomfortable”.
At St. Charles’ Boromeo Catholic Church, Odume Obosi, it appears they have taken the directive seriously.
Their security men at the gate of the church didnot let in anyone without donning the face masks inside the premises. Because of this, all those for the service put on the masks in observance of the directive.
“It is not an easy task,” said Amara Onyegbunam, a member of the church, adding, “even though I don’t like it, but I have been longing to resume attending church. `I will not allow issue of face mask to deprive me from resuming church services,” she said.
Mrs Evelyn Okoro, another member said: “I hate face masks because It makes one ugly and unrecognisable.
“But whether I like it or not does not matter; what matters is that our priests insist that we must wear them and that is why I am wearing it.”
At Holy Family Catholic Parish, Nkpor Agu, Rev. Fr. Alex Anosike Ojo, said his parishioners have started implementing all preventive measures outlined by government to contain COVID-19.
He said they now observe the measures as recommended by government, including provision of hand washing buckets and use of sanitiser as well as wearing of face masks before entering the church.
“We also maintain social distancing of 3 meters during Mass. We hand in Holy Communion into the hands of parishioners, who will in turn put into their mouths. We no longer administer communions into their mouths. We have also banned all forms of hand shaking and hugging,” he noted.
Fr. Ojo said that a Church Task Force Committee had since been set up to monitor compliance by the church and the parishioners.
“I know it is not going to be easy for members to be wearing face masks to Church, especially the aged, the under aged and those with health challenges,” he stressed.
“Arrangements in sitting two per pew is a welcome development for my parishioners, provided it will help in distance- keeping,” Ojo said.
He enjoined the faithful to always maintain a high level of hygiene like closing their mouths and noses while coughing and sneezing.
One of the church’s zonal chairmen, Mr Monday Owen, called on the parishioners to adhere to all instructions given by government, as they mean well for Ndi Anambra.