President Akufo-Addo has removed congregational restrictions on churches as well as mosques and lifted the limitations on loading for all means of transport. He however cautioned that all remaining protocols must be strictly observed.
The restrictions on congregating in places of worship and on transport were imposed in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ghana earlier this year.
The president lifted the measures, in what he called “phase two of the easing of restrictions”, as he delivered his 14th address on the coronavirus to the nation today, 26 July 2020.
President Akufo-Addo announced: “After further extensive consultations, the government has taken the decision to embark upon the implementation of phase two of the easing of restrictions in the following sectors of our national life.
“Our churches and mosques have been open for prayers and services for the past seven weeks, adhering to 25% occupancy or up to 100 congregants over a time duration of up to one hour per service. I extend my deepest appreciation to our religious leaders for their strict adherence to the safety protocols, which have prevented any known outbreaks, since they restarted their services.
“I have sorely missed going to church, as I am sure many others have. I am, therefore, very happy to announce that, in consultation with our church leaders, from 1 August 2020 the restrictions on the number of congregants worshipping at a time in church will be lifted, with the length of worship extended from one to two hours per service.
“Church leaders who are desirous of implementing this enhanced easing directive must ensure that congregants wear face masks at all times, and the one metre social distancing rule is scrupulously applied. These same guidelines apply to worship in our mosques.
“With greater numbers of congregants likely to return for worship, I would, respectfully, ask the religious leaders to pay even greater attention to the fresh air ventilation of their premises, rather than relying on the use of air conditioners,” President Akufo-Addo said.
On the tourism sector, the president announced: “In consultation with the Ghana Tourism Authority and the health experts, I am announcing the reopening of our nation’s tourist sites and attractions, so they can begin to receive visitors. Open-air drinking spots can now function. The management of these facilities are tasked to enforce enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols.
“Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs, however, remain closed until further notice,” President Akufo-Addo added.
Under-20 and under-17 football teams
The president lifted restrictions on the female under-20 and under-17 national football teams, giving them “clearance to go into their respective training camps to begin preparations towards their FIFA and CAF-sanctioned international matches, which begin in September”.
“Whilst in training, the playing, technical and management teams must observe strictly all the protocols issued by the government, CAF and FIFA against COVID-19,” he stressed.
“All other team and contact sports, and competitive sporting events, remain suspended till further notice,” the president said.
President Akufo-Addo further said that, in consultation with the Ministries of Transport and Aviation and the leaders of transport operators’ unions, “Government has taken the decision to lift the restrictions in the transport sector and allow for full capacity in our domestic airplanes, taxis, trotros and buses.
“The wearing of masks in vehicles and aircraft, and the maintenance of enhanced hygiene protocols, remain mandatory,” the president stressed.
“Private burials, still with a maximum of 100 persons, can continue to be performed,” he said.
On the matter of the opening of air, land and sea borders, the president announced that these will “remain closed until further notice for human traffic”.
He however added: “Given that there are Ghana residents stranded abroad, special dispensation will continue to be given for the evacuation of our nationals and residents back to Ghana, where they will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine and safety protocols.”
Every Ghanaian’s responsibility
President Akufo-Addo however cautioned that “the phased opening up of the country puts an individual obligation and responsibility on each Ghanaian” and, as such, citizens “must continue to remain vigilant, and respect the enhanced hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols that have become part and parcel of our daily routine. We dare not ruin the successes we have chalked over this period.”
COVID-19 case count
According the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 website, the number of active coronavirus cases in Ghana today, 26 July 2020, stands at 3,307. Twenty-nine thousand, four hundred and ninety-four people have recovered after becoming infected with COVID-19. Overall, 32,969 people have contracted the virus in Ghana and 168 people have lost their lives as a result of COVID-19.
The Johns Hopkins University website tracking COVID-19 cases worldwide puts the global number of confirmed cases at 16,157,585 and the number of deaths of COVID patients at 647,159 as of 11pm today, 26 July 2020.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio
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