The calls for President Akuffo Addo to lift the ban on Church services appears to be gaining momentum by the day. As the deadline for the last ban inches close to its expiration, the pressure is mounting on the President as churches openly and subtly announce their readiness to put preventive measures in place at their various places of worship.
The Churches which had touted it’s ‘patriotism’ as they claimed to have religiously adhered to the President’s ban on church services, which was part of a broader group of measures instituted to check the spread of the coronavirus, suddenly seem to find the ‘kitchen too hot to handle’.
Despite the fact that Ghana has recorded over 3,000 cases of the deadly virus, the Church leaders claim to be adequately prepared and ready to conduct services without putting the lives of members at risk.
In a statement jointly released by these Christian leaders, they claim to have identified various risk areas in the churches and have outlined measures to mitigate the said risks, albeit without any evidence of a comprehensive risk assessment.
Among the measures include compulsory handwashing and sanitisation before entering the church, social distancing in seating arrangements, special sitting arrangement for the aged, no handshakes and the compulsory wearing of facemasks.
Some of the measures outlined include:
- Clean utility areas, surfaces and items touched by different people routinely. Preferably clean surfaces every 1-2 hours depending on utilization. Door handles, WC handles, faucets, microphones. Seat arms/handles should be disinfected before and after service for the next session.?
- Provide separate seating areas for the aged and families.
- Organise churches services in sessions: because of the need for social distancing as described above, there will invariably be the need to organize churches in more than one session with at least one hour in between services.
- Wear facemasks: All citizens/church members including pastors, are to wear facemasks to enter churches. It is particularly important for those who will engage by talking e.g. pastors, Sunday school teachers etc. The mask will prevent droplet infections from getting to others. For all others, it will also prevent them from getting droplets from others in the church. Masks are to be kept on until one comes back home. This will reduce the risk of spread from asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
If there is any lesson the outbreak of this pandemic has taught mankind, it is that God is not necessarily found in buildings called Churches. Pastors and church leaders who have since time immemorial taught us how ungodly it is to remain at home on Sundays were suddenly teaching us about joining services via online platforms. The pandemic has also taught us that it is possible to stay home and still serve God.
Is there something else beyond the “open churches immediately” sloganeering? Maybe, just maybe, the Church intends to recover all that it has donated to the COVID-19 fund.