The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has announced that religious services could commence after partially easing restrictions on public gatherings in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
This takes effect from Friday, June 5, 2020, with Muslims expected to have a feel of worshiping in the Mosques for the time in three months following the restrictions on public gatherings.
Churches are expected to also open up to the Christian community from Saturday, June 6, 2020 and Sunday, June 7, 2020.
However, the lifting of the restrictions comes with a caveat.
In his 10th update to the nation on Sunday, May 31, 2020, over measures taken against the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Akufo-Addo said even though religious services could commence, the service should be restricted to twenty-five percent (25%) attendees, “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 of social distancing between congregants”.
Further to that, congregants must mandatorily wear face masks at all times with the church and mosque leaders tasked to register the names and contact details of all worshipers and as well provide hand washing facilities and sanitizers at those facilities.
Each service, must have a maximum duration of one (1) hour.
“Religious institutions that are desirous of opening their premises to their members, such as churches, mosques and others, must disinfect, fumigate, and put in place the requisite logistics needed to guarantee safe opening and operation. They must work with designated, regulatory body and undertake test runs of the protocols I have outlined”, President Akufo-Addo noted in his address.
He therefore appealed to Christians and Muslims to dedicate their first worship in three months to prayers for the nation “in these challenging times”.
The decision to ease the restrictions, according to the President, follows stakeholder consultations over the last few weeks with entities in the health, labour, religious, chieftaincy, educational, hospitality, transport, sports, tourism and creative arts sectors.
These consultations, he noted, have largely been hinged on analysis of the data gathered and the adoption of best practices and experiences of other countries that have attempted to move on in the wake of the pandemic.
“A consensus has emerged from these consultations that we should embark on a strategic, controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get our lives and economy back to normal”, he said.
President Akufo-Addo further noted that the easing of restrictions will be a phased approach, involving a selected list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact, and, most importantly, the country’s capacity to enforce and respond, in the event of a flare up in its number of infections.
The country’s borders still remain closed until further notice.