The Religious Affairs Minister, Kofi Dzamesi, has directed churches to desist from crowd dancing and waving of handkerchiefs during church services.
This directive comes after the President of the Republic of Ghana mentioned that effective Friday, June 5, the process of easing restrictions will start with church and mosque activities.
The President while delivering the 10th Covid-19 update address said regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to ensure full compliance of this directive.
He said churches can hold one hour for each service with not more than 100 participants at a time.
“As I stated in my May Day address, I’m now in a position to outline the roadmap for easing safely the restrictions. Ours is going to be a fazed approach involving a selective list of public gatherings based on the risk profile, socio-economic effect, and most importantly, our capacity to enforce, respond, and prevent a flare-up in cases. 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 attendance with a maximum number of congregants can worship at a time in church or mosque with the mandatory one-meter rule of social distancing between congregants,” the President said.
Speaking as a press briefing to give detailed guidelines on the government of Ghana’s guidelines for churches to re-open, Kofi Dzamesi said Churches who would begin services from 5th June 2020 should ensure the regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently used communal places (like toilet surfaces) and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, preferably every 1-2 hours depending on the rate of utilization.
Meanwhile, some Churches have released statements suggesting that, although the President has asked them to begin services with strict measures, they will continue to hold virtual services until an appropriate time.
See the full list of guidelines below:
I. Thermometer guns or thermal scanners are to be provided for checking the temperature of congregants at entry points.
II. A No mask, No entry Policy is to be enforced.
III. Handwashing facilities with running water and soap and/or FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizers are to be provided.
IV. Adequate waste management facilities (bins, cans, bin-liners, and single-use tissues) are to be made available.
V. Adequate toilet facilities must be made available.
VI. There should be the regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently used communal places (like toilet surfaces) and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, preferably every 1-2 hours depending on the rate of utilization.
VII. A holding room or area where a person who becomes sick at the gathering can be isolated from others must be available ahead of arrangements for the evacuation.
VIII. There must be the regular disinfection of venues used by churches, preferably once every month.
IX. Trained cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items must be on hand to clean the facilities regularly and handle waste appropriately.
X. Provide adequate ventilation, i.e. open windows to allow for the maximum circulation of fresh air, if possible, avoid confined air-conditioned rooms.
XI. Display approved health promotion materials on COVID-19 at vantage points to remind congregants to keep to social distancing protocols, wearing of the masks, regular handwashing, coughing, and sneezing etiquette.
XII. Ensure a No handshake, No hugging, and No Spitting policy at all times.
XIII. Follow established evacuation procedures (as outlined in Annex 1) to enable evacuation if a congregant becomes sick during the event and has to be evacuated.
XIV. Churchs are to form a COVID-19 task force comprising of members who are preferably health workers.
XV. The COVID task force should Call 112 or 311 for support to enable evacuation if anyone develops fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing during service.
XVI. Unwell Persons are not allowed to attend church
XVII. Older persons and people of any age with underlying medical conditions, heart diseases, diabetes, liver disease, and asthma are advised to stay away from church service
XVIII. Sharing personal items such as watches, jewelry, pens, and phones should be discouraged.
XIX. If an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, all contacts must be traced and screened.
XX. No crowd dancing and waving of handkerchiefs during church services.
XXI. Sanitize microphones immediately after each use.
XXII. All who speak/sing in churches (including Pastors, Sunday school teachers, Singers, and Announcers) must wear facemask during service.
XXIII. Discourage singing in groups. Pre-recorded songs or solos should be used.
XXIV. Pre-packaged communion bread and wine should be picked up by members at the point of entry.
XXV. Place offering bowls at the entrance and exit points for members to give offerings and tithes when entering or on their way out of church premises. Encourage cash transfers via mobile money or mobile banking as forms of giving offerings.
XXVI. In observance of social distancing protocols, laying on of hands should not be allowed.
XXVII. Spend at least 5 minutes of church service time to educate church members on Covid-19.
XXVIII. Provide separate sitting areas for the aged and for families that are together.
XXIX. The church is encouraged to mobilize resources to help individuals in need including offering church health facilities.