The government has outlined protocols that churches must adhere to as they are given the green light to worship with congregants.
The Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi who announced them at a press conference at the Information Ministry on Monday said persons without face masks should not be allowed entry into the church.
In addition, all congregants must are to wash hands with soap under running water or rub with alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entry. Also, persons with underlining conditions are not permitted to attend church service.
He said religious bodies are to keep a database of worshippers to assist in contact tracing should a Covid-19 case be recorded.
According to him, congregants are to avoid shaking hands or body contact, sharing of items like pens and jewelry on church premises should be discouraged.
Below are the other protocols churches must ensure are observed:
Mr. Dzamesi said until further notice, there will not be crowd dancing and waving of handkerchiefs in churches.
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 handwashing 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 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 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 times.
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.