Mr Dzamesi has called for mandatory COVID-19 taskforce to check health of congregation before church and mosque can operate
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi has called on religious authorities to train COVID-19 health taskforce to check the health of congregation before, during and after church service.
He explained that the taskforce should comprise of people who work in health settings or has knowledge in health related issues.
Speaking at Ministers’ media briefing in Accra on Monday, Mr Dzamesi reiterated the need for religious institutions to be mindful of the health of their members now more than ever to secure them against the novel coronavirus.
He said there should be gun thermometers that the taskforce would use to check temperatures of the congregants before they enter the church and mosque premises.
Mr Dzamesi indicated that there should be mandatory 25per cent attendance, with a maximum number of 100 congregants to worship at a time in church or at the mosque with a mandatory one metre rule of social distancing between congregants.
In addition to the social distancing protocol, he called for mandatory wearing of masks for all persons at all times in churches and mosques, adding that names and contact details of worshippers should be registered to ease tracing of members if any outbreak occurs.
“All who will be speaking in churches including pastors, singers and announcers must wear facemask during service. Muslims will wear their masks and wear easy removable foot wears preferably slippers. There must be someone in charge to ensure members do not crowd up infront of mosque after the service to wear their sandals or slippers,” Mr Dzamesi added.
He charged members not to dance in crowd nor wave handkerchiefs during services.
Mr Dzamesi said members and church or mosque authorities should frown on handshaking, hugging and spitting policy to ensure the safety of eachother during services.
Pre-recorded songs or solos, he insisted was the best to be used during services and underscored the need for frequent sanitising of microphones immediately after its use.
Mr Dzamesi urged religious authorities to register their churches and mosques at the districts offices within which they operate and never forget to make available hand washing facilities and sanitisers at vantage point with a maximum duration of one hour for each service.
Religious institutions including churches, mosques and others that were desirous of opening their premises to their members, he stated should disinfect, fumigate and put in place the requisite logistics needed to guarantee safe opening and operation.
Mr Dzamesi said offering and tithe bowls should be placed at the entrance of the church or mosque and also encouraged pastors and mosque leaders to adopt digital banking like the use of mobile money (momo) for members to send their dues, offerings and tithes.
He also appealed for a designated room for members who might show symptoms of COVID-19 or any related ailments to enable evacuation.
In order for members not to risk their lives, Mr Dzamesi indicated that there should be adequate ventilation in the room while air conditioners (AC) should be off.
“Pre-packaged communion bread and wine should be picked up by members at the point of entry,” he stated.
Mr Dzamesi urged religious institutions to work with the designated regulatory bodies and undertake test runs of the protocols outlined, otherwise their church and mosque would be closed down when they violate any of the conditions.
He also encouraged them to use five minutes of the service time to educate the congregation on the preventive etiquette of COVID-19 for them to stay alert.
BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE