South Africa has Bheki Cele and the Mexicans have luchadors. A Mexican city has opted for an unorthodox approach to get its citizens to wear masks in public. In South Africa it is a crime to not wear a mask in public in South Africa, an offence which is punishable by fine or a six-month stint in prison.

In the city of Irapuato, Mexico the same offence is punishable by a steel chair. Lepra, Moco, Gargajo, Costal Clown and Garcia Jr, are reportedly the names of a group of wrestlers, or luchadors as they are known in Mexico, hired to spread COVID-19 awareness, hand out masks and chew out anyone who does not adhere to public safety protocols.

The official Irapuato government Twitter account shared several videos of the wrestlers in action.

A translation of one of the tweets reads: “In the style of fighters, Lepra invites citizens to use their mask to take care of themselves and to be able to break the chain of contagions of COVID-19.”

“Don’t risk finding them,” warns the tweet.

In the video, it soon becomes evident what happens when citizens are found by wrestlers sans mask.

The group spots a mask-less man while walking through an indoor market, called Plaza Del Comercio Popular,  and Lepra hurls a chair at him knocking him to the ground. The man appeared to be uninjured and quickly gets back on his feet and pulls up the face mask that was dangling beneath his chin.

It is unclear, but the evidence suggests that the spectacle was nothing more than a publicity stunt, as there are several camerapersons in tow.

Upon closer inspection, the man knocked to the ground is also wearing the same brand of blue gloves that the wrestler’s entourage is.

In a different clip, Lepra scolds a man for not wearing a mask. No chair is used this time but the wrestler still clutches it menacingly while the startled man puts on his mask.

Other video clips are more jolly, to say the least, the wrestlers can be seen handing out masks, sanitising their hands and engaging with the public.

Wrestling is a very popular pastime in Mexico and most of the luchadors wear masks when competing, which is why the Irapuato government opted for this unique approach, which calls to mind the way one-time WWE Smackdown manager Teddy Long’s threatened to punish wrestler’s by making them face ‘The Undertaker’ in the ring, which has been immortalised as a meme – if that cannot convince you to wear a mask, nothing will besides imprisonment.

The Mexican and South African approaches to mask enforcement may be on opposite ends of the spectrum and because of the dire situation the country finds itself in a such a light-hearted approach would not be suitable at all.

The crux of the matter is that masks save lives by protecting you and others from the virus.

Picture: Screenshot from video

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