The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) on Monday welcomed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s Directive that religious services could commence with 25 per cent, or a maximum of 100 congregants, to worship in church or at the mosque.
Reacting to the Presidential Directive, the Most Reverend Bishop Paul Kwabena Boafo, the Chairman of the CCG, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, urged the churches to adapt to the temporary one hour service duration.
“The churches should endeavour to manage with the one hour because this is the new normal and so we should be able to adapt to these things since we can’t have the luxury as with previous times,” Rev. Dr Boafo said.
He noted that “previously we did not have any time limitation to worship, but now as part of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are limited to an hour for service, we should be able to manage and operate within that for now”.
Rev Dr Boafo, who doubles as the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, said church leaders were preparing to meet the sector Minister soon to discuss the “details of what has been put forward”.
“The President only mentioned 25 per cent, or a maximum of 100 people, one hour and other things, but we want to clarify the issues further with the Minister.”
Rev Boafo said the leadership would, however, discuss the one-hour duration per service since it would be a bit of a challenge for most churches, adding that “for some churches the one hour is just for warming up.”
He advised churches not to rush in opening up their premises for service but take some time in putting their auditoriums in place, sanitise and disinfect the premises, and educate their ushers on the dos and don’ts.
Rev Isaac Obed Asamoah, the Head Pastor of the Gospel Faith Ministry, also added his voice to welcome the government’s first phase of measures to ease the COVID-19 restrictions.
He said he believed the President announcement was based on scientific advice so the churches would endeavour to abide by the one hour per service directive until “we are finally out of this”.
President Akufo-Addo, during his 10th COVID-19 National Address on Sunday, outlined an abridged format for religious services to commence from June 5 amid the Coronavirus pandemic as part of Ghana’s quest of easing the restrictions on social gatherings and safety protocols.
The directives require that religious leaders ensured a mandatory one-metre rule of social distancing between congregants. In addition, it is mandatory for the wearing of masks for all persons at all times in churches and mosques.
Each religious facility is also mandated to keep a register of names and contact details of all worshippers, fixed handwashing facilities and make provision for sanitizers.
According to the Presidential Directives each service is to last a maximum of one hour.
Religious institutions that were 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 outlined.
President Akufo-Addo said the Minister of Religious Affairs would, from Monday, June 1, outline in detail the specific guidelines for the safe reopening of the churches and mosques.
He explained that the decision to gradually ease the COVID-19 restrictions was reached by consensus, which emerged from consultations with various stakeholders who advised that “the country should embark on a strategic, controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get our lives and economy back to normal”.
“Ours is going to be a phased approach, involving a selected list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact, and, most importantly, our capacity to enforce and to respond in the event of a flare-up in our number of infections.”