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     No Mask No Entering Into Church, Mosque In Ghana

     

    Worshippers in Ghana have to adapt to a new way of life in churches and mosques as the country outlines new covid-19 safety protocols for religious bodies.

    Churches and mosques in Ghana have been cautioned to strictly ensure no mask no entry policy.

    Ghana’s Minister of Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi, served the warning as he gave further updates on the safety protocols for the reopening of churches and mosques nationwide.

    Churches in Ghana are to reopen on June 5, 2020.

    The Minister says churches must strictly adhere to the safety protocols, ensure no hand-shake, no hugging, among others.

    He stressed the need for disinfection, provision of ventilations, ensure social distancing and not allowing more than 25 percent attendance or 100 congregants per service.

    Older persons with underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, among others, he says, are advised to stay away from church.

    Churches Risk Closure

    The Minister warned that churches or other religious bodies that flouts the coronavirus safety protocols risk being closed or dealt with appropriately.

    The Minister of Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi, told journalist at a news conference on Monday night, June 1, 2020.

    According to him, the Government of Ghana shall strictly ensure compliance with the safety protocols that have been put in place as churches and mosques prepare to reopen.

    He says social distancing and other safety protocols such as not having more than 100 congregants per service must strictly be adhered to.

    He stated that churches and mosques should not allow their members who do not wear face masks to enter for service.

    Below is the Minister’s full address containing the remaining safety measures

    The President of the Republic of Ghana, H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo in his broadcast to the Nation on 30th May, 2020 announced a further restriction pertaining to the COVID-19 phenomenon. This briefing is to indicate further measures to be followed in addition to the already announced protocols to be observed by all.
    The Christian, Muslim Community and all other religions are to observe the following strictly. Some Christian bodies worship on Saturdays and others on Sundays. The Muslim Community generally observe worship on Fridays.
    With effect from Friday, 5th June, the government will begin Stage One of the process of easing restrictions. An abridged format for religious services can commence and all worshippers entreated to dedicate their first service for the prayer for the nation in this challenging time. Twenty-five percent (25%) attendance, with a maximum number of one hundred (100) congregants, can worship at a time in a church or at a mosque, with a mandatory one (1) metre rule (3 feet) of social distancing between congregants.
    In addition, all congregants must
    I. Wear masks at all times
    II. Wash hands with soap under running water or rub with alcohol-based hand
    sanitizer before entry
    III. Avoid handshaking or body contact
    IV. Register details including phone numbers, manually or digitally. Digital registration can be done on GH COVID-19 APP on PANABIOS APP which can be downloaded at no cost.
    General Specific Protocols for Churches
    Churches must ensure these protocols are observed:
    I. Thermometer guns or thermal scanners are provided for checking the temperature of congregants at entry points of all venues as necessary.
    II. Ensure a No mask: No entry Policy

    III. Provision of hand washing facilities with running water and soap and/or FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    IV. Provision of adequate waste management facilities (bins, cans, bin-liners and single-use tissues).
    V. Provision of adequate toilet facilities for use by members.
    VI. 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. Designate a holding room or area where a person who becomes sick at the premises/event can be isolated from others while making arrangements for evacuation.
    VIII. Regular disinfection of venues used by churches, preferably once every month. For example, fumigation and disinfection must be carried out with recognized entities like Zoomlion.
    IX. Trained cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items to clean the facilities regularly and handle waste appropriately.
    X. Provide adequate ventilation, i.e. open windows to allow for 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 time.
    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. Form COVID task force comprising of members who are preferably health workers. They must be trained in Health Promotive prevention measures, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Evacuation Procedures by Ghana Health Service.
    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.
    General Protocols for Mosque
    Mosque leaders must ensure these protocols are observed:
    I. Thermometer guns or thermal scanners must be provided for checking the temperature of members at entry points of all venues as necessary.
    II. Ensure a No mask: No entry Policy
    III. Provision of hand washing facilities with running water and soap and/or FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    IV. Provision of adequate waste management facilities (bins, cans, bin-liners and single-use tissues).
    V. Provision of adequate toilet facilities for use by members.
    VI. Regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently used communal places (like bathroom and toilet surfaces) and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, preferably every 1-2 hours depending on the rate of utilization.
    VII. Designate a holding room or area where a person who becomes sick at the premises/event can be isolated from others while making arrangements for evacuation.
    VIII. Regular disinfection of venues used for mosque gathering, preferably once every month. For example, fumigation and disinfection must be carried out with recognized entities like Zoomlion
    IX. Professional cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items 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 people 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 time.
    XIII. Follow established evacuation procedures (as outlined in Annex 1) to enable evacuation if a participant becomes sick during the event and has to be evacuated.
    XIV. Form COVID task force comprising of members who are preferably health workers. They must be trained in Health Promotive prevention measures, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), and Evacuation Procedures by Ghana Health Service.
    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 the gathering.
    XVI. Unwell Persons are not allowed to attend mosques
    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 going to the mosque.
    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. Ensure each worshipper uses their personal mat (Sajaada), or disinfect mats provided by the mosque before and after use.
    XXI. Ablution should be performed in the house by adherents before entering the Mosque.
    XXII. Use easily removable footwear such as slippers

    XXIII. Allow people to come out of the mosque to collect slippers one after the other instead of crowding at the entrance
    XXIV. Put a bowl at the entrance of the mosque for the offering of Fisabidali.
    XXV. Sanitize microphones immediately after each use.
    XXVI. Spend at least 5 minutes of worship time to educate mosque attendees on Covid-19.
    *****All other religious organization including traditional religious should follow the general safety protocols.
    Enforcement
    Self-Regulation is through churches, mosques and all other religious organizations but the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Local Government in collaboration with Ghana Health Service officials shall take enforcement responsibilities.
    Where necessary, the state security services, shall ensure enforcement of these protocols.
    There will be Random enforcement checks to ensure compliance.
    A Church or Mosque or other religious bodies that violates the laid down protocols would be dealt with appropriately. A Church or Mosque or other religious organizations in violation could be closed down. The Leaders in charge would equally be held liable. The District Assemblies and monitoring teams are on hand to ensure compliance with the directives.
    Every Church or Religious body must be registered with the Registrar General’s and their church or worship premises registered with the appropriate Municipal, Metropolitan or District Assembly.
    ?

    Monitoring & Evaluation
    The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Local Government in collaboration with Health Officials will continue to monitor and evaluate key indicators to establish the transmission levels of the virus. The approach will include benchmarking and rapid learning to inform decision making and tactical adaptations to the overall strategy and hotspot specifics.
    Contingency Arrangements
    If there is an unexpected outburst in infections within a public event or community, Government has put health workers and the security services, including the Police Service and the Armed Forces on standby to coordinate a rapid response of human resource and logistics, and if necessary, to cordon off, impose a curfew, trace, test, and treat infected persons in the affected community.
    Digital Technology
    Digital technology will be used to complement tracing, testing & treating as well as monitoring of indicators.
    Annex 1 – Evacuation Procedures
    Actions to be undertaken when dealing with a sick person:
    I. Obtain the person’s details (name/organization/contact person/immediate family member details including a phone number).
    II. Inform the sick person that they will be separated/ isolated due to symptoms.
    III. Minimize contact between the sick person and all other persons and direct to the predesignated holding room.
    IV. The sick person must always wear a facemask and observe social distancing at all times
    V. Organizers or the COVID task force must call 112 or 311 or link up with local district health authorities for immediate evacuation or medical help.

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