President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Sunday further eased coronavirus restrictions, seeking to return the country gradually to a state of new normalcy after nearly five months of measures to combat the disease.
In a televised national broadcast, the President announced the lifting of restrictions on church and mosques gatherings, open air drinking spots, tourists’ sites and attractions, air and road transport and some sporting activities.
Churches and mosque, which had for the past seven weeks been holding services and prayers with not more than a 100 members over a duration of one hour per service, are now allowed to increase the number of congregants and extend worship time to two hours, starting August 1, 2020.
But religious leaders were to ensure that coronavirus safety protocols were observed to the letter as worship centres were to be well ventilated; congregants must wear face mask and stay one meter apart
Tourist sites and attractions, open air drinking spots were reopened to business, but beaches, pubs, cinemas, nightclubs however remain closed until further notice.
Also, the President gave clearance for the country’s female under-20 and under-17 teams to begin training towards the FIFA and CAF sanctioned international matches, and their handlers were to follow the set protocols for safety religiously.
However, all another team contact sports, and competitive sporting events remain suspended.
President Akufo-Addo also declared that domestic airplanes, taxis and mini-buses can now operate at full passenger capacity. Airlines and road transport owners are to ensure that passengers wore face mask and maintained set safety protocols at all material times.
The country’s frontiers however remained closed to human traffic until further notice.
But Ghanaians stranded abroad should leverage the special dispensation granted them by government to return home.
The President pointed out that with the coronavirus pandemic affecting the global economy and upsetting all facets of social and economic life, and the prediction that the virus would not be letting anytime soon, Ghanaians should, like the rest of world, learn to live with the reality of the situation until a cure is found for the disease.
He was emphatic that the disease should not bring national life to a standstill and that “We have to learn to adapt to the conditions.”
“Ghana cannot remain in a never-ending crisis management situation, and that is why we have been putting measures in place to restore gradually some normalcy in our social and economic lives, as we learn to cope with the reality of the virus.”
President Akufo-Addo noted that though some 32, 969 persons had so far contracted COVID-19 in the country, a closer look at the data showed that Ghana was “steadily on the path towards limiting and containing the virus, and, ultimately, defeating it.”
He said what should concern Ghanaians was the number of active cases, which currently stood at 3,349, showing that the country had faired extremely well in the management of the pandemic.
The consistent drop in the number of active coronavirus development, coupled with the low hospitalisation and mortality rates, the measures adopted to cope with the situation and experts advice, the President indicated, had informed Government’s decision to embark on a controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get national Life and economy back to normal.
He said government was strengthened in its determination to ensure that Ghanaians returned to their daily lives in safety, but held that the phased opening up of the country placed an individual obligation and responsibility on each and every citizen to continue to remain vigilant, respect the enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols. “We dare not ruin the successes we have chalked over this period,” he added.
The President cautioned persons who peddled untruths about the disease to put a stop to such ‘irresponsible’ behaviour which escalates mistrust and heighten unnecessarily, the anxiety levels over the disease in the country.
He called on Ghanaians to reject persons who perpetuate falsehood, stigmatise those who had recovered from COVID-19, and engage in anti-social social behaviour, and call them out when they do so.
“The virus is no respecter of persons, and the overwhelming majority of persons who have tested positive, recover, indeed, have recovered, and are living perfectly normal lives, and pose no danger to anyone,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was confident that the new phase in the country’s fight against the disease would create a ‘new normal” where Ghanaians would live responsibly, and constantly figure out how to go about their work, businesses, educational and social activities safely and help contain the speed of COVID-19.
“I have never wavered in my deeply-held conviction that, if each one of us embraces the safety protocols, and we continue to put our faith in the Almighty, we will emerge strongly from this crisis,” he said.