Governance

covid-19; read full speech of Ghana President on eased restrictions on churches, mosques etc

So, fellow Ghanaians, 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 (25%) attendance, 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.

In addition to the mandatory wearing of masks for all persons at all times in
churches and mosques, a register of names and contact details of all
worshippers and hand washing facilities and sanitisers must be provided,
with a maximum duration of one (1) hour for each service.

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 the designated, regulatory bodies and
undertake test runs of the protocols I have outlined. I would appeal to them,
in the case of Christians, on the first Sunday of re-opening, i.e. 7th June, in
the case of the Adventists, Saturday, 6th June, and in the case of Muslims,
on the first Friday, i.e. Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah on 5th June, to dedicate their
worship to prayers for the nation in these challenging times.

The Minister for
Religious Affairs, will, tomorrow, Monday, 1st June, outline, in detail, the
specific guidelines for the safe reopening of our churches and mosques.
From Monday, 15th June, 2020, the decision has been taken, after
engagement with the Teacher Unions, whose co-operation I salute, to re￾open schools and universities to allow for final year junior high, senior high
and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their
respective exit examinations.

Indeed, final year university students are to
report to their universities on 15th June; final year senior high school (SHS
3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on 22nd June; and
final year junior high school (JHS 3) students on 29th June. JHS 3 classes will
comprise a maximum of thirty (30) students; SHS classes a maximum of
twenty-five (25) students; and University lectures will take place with half
the class sizes

All final year students of educational and training institutions, which are
being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, are to return
to school on 15th June to complete their exit examinations.
Again, prior to the opening of schools and universities, the Ministry of
Education, and the heads of public and private educational institutions, will
fumigate and disinfect their institutions. Each student, teacher, and non￾teaching staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of
Education. For the avoidance of doubt, all other educational facilities, private
and public, for non-final year students, will remain closed. The Minister for
Education, in the coming days, will outline, in detail, the specific guidelines
for the safe reopening of our schools and universities.
Private burials, now with a maximum of one hundred (100) persons, can
continue to be performed. Restaurants, providing seated services, can
operate under appropriate social distancing arrangements and hygiene
protocols. Individual, non-contact sports can go ahead. Conferences,
workshops, weddings, and political activities, except rallies, can now take
place, but with limited numbers not exceeding one hundred (100) persons
present, with the appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols.
Market places, work places, public transport, and constitutional and statutory
bodies such as the Electoral Commission, the National Commission for Civic
Education and the National Identification Authority, whose activities were
exempted from the outset from these restrictions, must conduct their
activities in accordance with social distancing and the necessary hygiene and
safety protocols.
Whilst we step up public education of the protocols on public gatherings, let
me also state that regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to
ensure conformity with these rules, and the security services will be tasked
to enforce them. Should any institution fail to adhere to these directives, its
activity will be immediately prohibited, and relevant sanctions applied.
I have, by Executive Instrument, provided for these new directions, and
extended the suspension of the remaining public gatherings, as set out in
E.I. 64 of 15th March, until 31st July. In here, I refer to the suspension of
sporting events, nightclubs, cinemas, drinking spots, bars, beaches, festivals, funerals, political rallies, and large religious gatherings such as crusades,
pilgrimages and conventions.
Our border, by air, land and sea, remains closed until further notice for
human traffic. However, given that there are Ghana residents stranded
abroad, special dispensation is going to be given for their evacuation back
to Ghana, where they will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine and
safety protocols.
Fellow Ghanaians, it is said that with greater freedom comes greater
responsibility. The introduction of this phased opening up of our country
means that each and every one of us must continue to remain vigilant, and
respect the enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols that have
become part and parcel of our daily routine over the last three (3) months.
We cannot afford to let our guard down, and ruin the successes we have
chalked over this period.
Yes, there exists the possibility of a potential surge in infections. As a
precautionary measure, we have strengthened further our existing national,
regional and district response teams, with the support of the security forces,
to step up to deal with any eventuality. Over recent weeks, we have learnt
from the cases at the fish processing plant in Tema, and in the Obuasi
municipality, how to deal with such sudden spikes. We will continue to learn,
review and adjust where and when we need to do so. We will only proceed
with this staggered opening up of our country when it is safe to do so.
Fellow Ghanaians, now, more than ever, we must adhere to enhanced
personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, wash our hands with soap
under running water, refrain from shaking hands, and wear our masks
whenever we leave our homes. In the Ghanaian context, it has been
established that the cases of comorbidity, i.e. underlying health conditions,
that are associated with almost all the COVID-related deaths, are mainly
diabetes and hypertension. The risk factors for these diseases are being
overweight, eating refined foods, too much salt and sugar in meals,
inadequate physical exercise, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. It is,
thus, crucial that we improve our fitness levels, and adopt healthy eating
practices that incorporate our local food stuffs, which boost our immune systems. Persons with these diseases must take extra precautions, and take
their treatment seriously.
I am calling upon the Ministry of Information, the National Commission for
Civic Education and the media to intensify public education of these protocols
and directions. I entreat all religious, traditional, community and opinion
leaders to continue to partner with government in engaging, mobilising and
enforcing adherence to social distancing and personal hygiene practices in
their respective communities.
Fellow Ghanaians, as I stated in my fifth (5th) address to the nation, we will
protect people’s lives, then their livelihoods. It is this principle that guided
the decision to impose restrictions, and continues to guide me today. The
fact of the matter is that the measures we have taken appear, by the grace
of God, to be working, our healthcare system is, so far, not overwhelmed,
and, you, the Ghanaian people, have largely embraced the principles of
social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the enhanced hygiene
protocols, which are our most effective defences against the virus.
We have learnt many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that
we have to fortify urgently our public health system. We have committed to
the implementation of ‘Agenda 88’, that is building, within a year, a fully￾equipped, functional district hospital for each district that does not have one,
and a fully-equipped, functional regional hospital for each of the new
regions, together with a new regional hospital for the Western Region, and
the rehabilitation of Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Sekondi. We have to empower
and increase the number of our healthcare professionals across board.
Universal Health Coverage must become reality for all Ghanaians, not a
slogan, for every Ghanaian deserves good health and good healthcare. We
need to focus our energies on ensuring access of poor people to decent
housing. We can no longer ignore this basic requirement of social justice.
We have to make the things we use, and grow the foods we eat. We have
to come out of this crisis better, stronger and more united than before.
Ghana, free, united, socially just, self-reliant and productive, that is the
Ghana we are going to create together after we have defeated this virus.
Fellow Ghanaians, ultimately, the Battle is the Lord’s, and, with faith in Him,
we will emerge from this greater than before. We are one people, we are Ghanaians, and we stand together in joy and in times of trouble. We are a
people with an exceptional history, and we are the proud promoters of the
Black Star of Africa. We have all gone down together, we should all rise
together. This too shall pass!!
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and
strong.
I thank you for your attention and have a good night.

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