More than 100 can worship as Akufo-Addo lifts restriction on churches, mosques

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has lifted the restriction on the number of worshipers for religious services, extending the length of same from one hour to two hours. This is expected to take effect from Saturday, August 1. President Akufo-Addo announced this as part of Phase Two of the easing of restrictions on measures taken by his government in the fight against coronavirus. He spoke in his 14th update on Sunday, July 26. He said the decision was reached after extensive consultations with stakeholders. On Sunday, March 15, three days after Ghana recorded its first two index cases of Covid-19, President Akufo-Addo directed the closure of all churches and mosques as well as schools. He also banned social gatherings including political rallies. Barely three months after that, the president announced “abridged formats” of services for all religious groups, restricting the number of attendees to 25 per cent of the total congregation nd not more than 100. “Twenty-five percent attendance with a maximum number of 100 congregants, can worship at a time in church or at the mosque, with a mandatory one metre rule of social distancing between congregants,” he stated on Sunday, May 31 in his Update No. 10. That directive took effect from Friday, June 5 for Muslims, Saturday, June 6 for Adventists and Sunday, June 7 for other Christians. All the services were also restricted to an hour with the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, tasked to issue guidelines for religious bodies. But almost two months afterwards, President Akufo-Addo said the restrictions have been lifted for churches and mosques and the duration extended by an hour. “Our churches and mosques have been opened for prayers and services for the past seven weeks adhering to 25 per cent occupancy or up to 100 congregants over a time to which of up to 1 hour per service,” he stated, extending appreciation to religious leaders for “their strict adherence to the safety protocols”. “I am, therefore, very happy to announce in consultation with our church leaders from 1st August, 2020, the restriction on the number of congregants worshipping at a time in church will be lifted with the length of worship extended from 1 to 2 hours per service.” He advised church leaders who will implement this directive to ensure that all the congregants wear face masks at all times and observe the one-metre social distancing rule. President Akufo-Addo also advised them not to rely on air conditioners as stipulated in the guidelines by Mr Kofi Dzamesi but to enjoy natural breeze. “I sorely miss going to church as I am sure many others have,” he indicated.

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