COVID-19: Cabinet decides on land borders, easing of restrictions at airports

Borders were closed to human traffic two years ago following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana

Government is expected to lift, in the coming days, the closure of all land borders in the country. Borders were closed to human traffic two years ago following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana.

According to sources close to the ongoing Cabinet retreat at the Peduase Lodge, top on the agenda today was a report presented to Cabinet, proposing the re-opening of borders.

The report is as a result of three months of studies and analysis of Covid-19 vaccination and infection trends in Ghana and neighbouring west African countries.

Asaase’s News source also confirmed that government’s COVID-19 task force, three weeks ago, recommended to the President, the re-opening of the country’s land borders, but the President called for greater analysis of the regional trends, more data on vaccinations and further analysis of the options presented then.

“Cabinet today 18 March 2022, following the report of the task force, has decided to reopen all land borders”, a source familiar with the decision told Asaase news.

The President is expected to address the nation at the weekend on this and related matters. Our sources would, however, not give further details on the nature of the re-opening. Our information is that there will still be some level of control.

One option is to institute a random Covid-19 testing regime at the various land borders to gauge the potential spread of the virus from travelers into the country via our land borders.

Our reporter could not confirm if the reopening will be restricted to passengers who have received at least two vaccine shots.

The closure of Ghana’s borders on Saturday, 21 March 2020, by President Nana Akufo-Addo, affected trading between Ghana and her three closest neighbours: Togo (to the east), Burkina Faso (to the north) and la Côte d’Ivoire (to the west of the country), and the other countries in the region.

Review of airport restrictions

The President who is expected to announce the easing of these COVID-19 restrictions in his famous “Fellow Ghanaians” address to the nation, on Sunday is also likely to review existing restrictions imposed on arriving passengers at the country’s international airport.

However, there are strong resistance to that, which could see a situation where the mandatory testing either before one boards an incoming flight or when one arrives at the Kotoka International Airport will be maintained but less strictly.

On 1 September 2020, President Akufo-Addo suspended the ban on the country’s air borders and instituted strict testing regimes and negative COVID-19 test results requirement before travellers to Ghana could gain entry.

In his 16th address to the nation since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ghana on 30 August 2020, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he was satisfied with the simulation exercises that have been conducted at Kotoka Airport and preparations for arriving passengers.

Adequate testing facilities have also been installed at the point of entry, he said, and it is therefore safe to allow the airport to resume operations.

“Fellow Ghanaians, in update number 15, I announced the easing of restrictions in some areas of national life,” the president said.

“I also indicated my hope that preparations and simulation exercises under way, including the installation of COVID-19 testing facilities at Kotoka International Airport, would give us a clear indication as to whether or not we could reopen the airport on 1 September” the President said in his address.

Currently, international travelers arriving at the Kotoka international airport are required to take and have a negative PCR COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before their travel date and take an antigen test upon arrival at the airport here in Ghana.

Asaase News source within government indicated that one of the two requirements is likely to be dropped.

The most likely of the two which will be dropped is the negative PCR test required prior to boarding by all passengers traveling to Ghana. But, passengers will still be required to have evidence of full vaccination before boarding.

No IMF consideration

Additionally, Asaase’s News source confirmed that the issue of Ghana going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout, is not on the agenda of the ongoing Cabinet retreat.

The Cabinet meeting, the source indicated, is essentially on how government can bring relief to the ordinary Ghanaian, having regard to global inflation and increasing crude oil prices on the international market which is worsening the already bad situation the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed on the global economy.

Wilberforce Asare

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