President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Sunday announced the lifting of the ban imposed on in-person religious services and other public gatherings, as part of staggered measures to restore socio-economic life amid living with Covid-19.
However, congregants are supposed to wear face masks and observe a mandatory one-metre social distancing rule, and with a maximum of 100 people in any given space.
Services are not supposed to exceed one hour, while congregants are also required to strictly comply with hygiene protocols to ensure the safety of all.
Additionally, private burials, conferences, workshops, weddings, political activities, except rallies, can also be organised but also with a maximum of 100 persons.
In his 10th national broadcast on measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 on Sunday night, President Akufo-Addo, therefore, said effective Friday, June 5, Muslims could worship at the mosques, while Adventists followed suit on Saturday, June 6, with Christians who held services on Sundays, following on June 7.
The religious institutions are required to keep a register of names and contact details of all worshippers, amid frequent hand washing and the use of sanitizers.
Prior to the re-opening of churches and mosques, they must disinfect and fumigate their premises and put in place appropriate logistics to guarantee the safety of their members.
The President said the decision to ease the restrictions was based on a consensus that emerged from stakeholder consultations to ensure a strategic, controlled, progressive and safe easing of restrictions to get lives and economy back to normal.
He explained : “As I stated in my May Day address, a month ago, I am now in a position to outline the roadmap for easing safely the restrictions.
“Ours is going to be a phased approach, involving a selected list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact, and, most importantly, our capacity to enforce and to respond, in the event of a flair up in our number of infections.
“So, fellow Ghanaians, with effect from Friday, 5th June, we will begin Stage One of the process of easing restrictions.
“An abridged format for religious services can commence. Twenty-five percent (25%) attendance, with a maximum number of one hundred (100) congregants, can worship at a time in church or at the mosque, with a mandatory one – metre rule.
“They must work with the designated, regulatory bodies and undertake test runs of the protocols I have outlined.
” I would appeal to them, in the case of Christians, on the first Sunday of re-opening, i.e. 7th June, in the case of the Adventists, Saturday, 6th June, and in the case of Muslims, on the first Friday, i.e. Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah on 5th June, to dedicate their worship to prayers for the nation in these challenging times. ”
President Akufo-Addo said the Minister for Religious Affairs would tomorrow, Monday, 1st June, outline, in detail, the specific guidelines for the safe reopening of the churches and mosques
On the reopening of schools, President Akufo-Addo said effective Monday, June 15, final year students of Junior High Schools(JHS), Senior High Schools(SHS) and Universities will resume for classes.
All final year students of educational and training institutions, which were being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, were to return to complete their exit examinations.
Final year university students were to report to campus on June 15;, SHS 3 students together with SHS2 Gold Track students on June 22; whilst the JHS 3 reported on June 29 he said .
All JHS 3 classes will comprise a maximum of 30 students, SHS classes 25 and University lectures will take half the class size.
After Ghana recorded its first two COVID-19 cases on March 12, the Government started implementing a raft taken of measures to contain the respiratory disease.
They include the closure of the country’s borders, setting up of screening centres at the various points of entry, creation of holding rooms for suspected COVID-19 cases, isolation and treatment centres.
Other measures include closure of schools, churches, mosques, drinking spots and ban on conferences, festivals and sporting activities across the country.
Government also activated Public Health Emergency Management Structures at all levels, with the creation of Emergency Management Committees to initiate preparedness activities and enhanced surveillance for respiratory diseases.
Government additionally imposed a three-week partial lockdown on epicentres of the virus, including Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi.