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Editorial News of Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Source: Pulse Ghana

Pulse: Ghana's new worship regulation is a high leap of faith in her people

Amongst the easing measures announced is the lift of the ban on all religious activities.

President Akufo-Addo announced on Sunday, May 31, 2020, during his tenth COVID-19 address to the nation that up to 100 people can now congregate in churches, mosques, and other places of worship, effect June 5, 2020.

According to the President, government after several consultations with various stakeholders decided on a 25% attendance threshold for religious gatherings.

He further noted that the various religious bodies are also to ensure strict adherence to social distancing protocols during worship.

The churches and the mosques are also supposed to provide Veronica buckets for the washing of hands, as well as hand sanitizers.

Congregants are all supposed to wear masks during worship. Also, all services are to last for a maximum of one hour.

READ ALSO: Pulse Editorial: In the face of a pandemic, Ghana's education system crumbles under the stress of e-learning

“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.”

How can the churches and mosques adhere to these ground rules outlined by the president religiously?

Will the congregants conform and be obedient as we try to ease the restrictions and prevent the spread of the deadly virus in the country?

Probably not.

For a country where indiscipline is largely the order of the day, it will be difficult to think the religious folks can abide by the president’s directive.

Churches have failed over the years to abide by the simple law on noise making. The majority of churches in Ghana are guilty of noise pollution.

On countless occasions, citizens have had the cause to sue churches over excessive noise-making in their various neighbourhoods.

Most churches have failed to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permissible ambient noise set.

These problems coupled with the relaxed nature of Ghanaians in complying with protective measures on COVID-19 like social distancing, wearing the face mask and even breaking some of the ban rules on gatherings takes a high leap of faith to believe that these new directives will be easily followed.

Having shown lack of discipline in various forms and the sheer lack of space for social distancing for most religious gatherings in Ghana, these rules for worship in this COVID-19 era may prove a hard nut to crack.

Perhaps time will prove these points wrong!

READ ALSO: Ghana’s COVID-19 case count rises to 8,070; recoveries now 2,947

On the 25% attendance threshold or the 100 congregants for an hour service, points have been raised around religious purely doing business.

Can leaders be strict on attendance when they know that more people means more money and turn away worshipers because they want to ensure the safety and health of the people?

How will members simply return to their houses after journeying kilometres to church premises to find out they did not make the 100 people list? Will there be a schedule? Will be people be turned away for not having masks?

And ultimately, will the government ensure these measures and guidelines are met by all religious bodies involved?

As the world looks to a new way of living, all banned activities were at some point going to be relaxed. However, it involves a lot of discipline from all involved and Ghana has not shown to do well previously in such circumstances.

For the President’s directive on the rules in worshipping to be adhered to, there must be absolute enforcement of the law until the new way of life becomes a part of the people.

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