COVID-19: Minister for Religious Affairs outlines measures to guide religious activities

The Minister for Chieftaincy, Culture and Religious Affairs, Hon. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, following President Akufo-Addo’s directive has, on Monday, 1st June, 2020 outlined, in detail, specific guidelines and protocols for the safe reopening of  religious activities for churches and mosques across the country.

The Hon. Minister during a press briefing said, all religious bodies who wish to resume their services must strictly abide by the protocols outlined by the Ministry in line with World Health Organization (WHO) and Ghana Health Service to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Hon. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi added that, any religious bodies that may go contrary with the President’s directive will be made to face the necessary sanctions.

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Read below the full protocols outlined by the Ministry at a press briefing on Monday, 1st June, 2020. 

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.

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