The Ministry of Chieftancy and Religious Affairs has outlined new guidelines for worship in mosques with a call on moslem leaders to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 containment protocols.
Mr Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, Minister of Chieftancy and Religious Affairs, addressing a media encounter in Accra on President Akufo-Addo's easing of restrictions on gathering, said from June 05, 2020, when mosques were expected to admit worshipers, the various protocols including the use of thermometer guns or thermal scanners to check the temperature of members at entry points must not be compromised.
He said "a no mask: no entry" policy, provision of hand washing facilities and soap and/or FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer must also be available.
Mr Dzamesi said it was also required of mosques to hire professional cleaners with the necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning items to clean the facilities regularly and handle waste appropriately.
"Provide adequate ventilation, i.e. open windows to allow for the maximum circulation of fresh air, if possible, avoid confined air-conditioned rooms.
He urged every mosque management to form a COVID task force comprising of members who were preferably health workers saying, "They must be trained in Health Promotive prevention measures, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), and Evacuation Procedures by the Ghana Health Service".
He asked all mosque management teams to also create a holding area where those who fell sick during worship would be kept, monitored and prepared for evacuation.
He asked that the COVID task force should call 112 or 311 for support to enable evacuation.
Older persons and people of any age with underlying medical conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, liver disease, and asthma are advised to stay away from going to the mosque.
Sharing personal items such as watches, jewelry, pens and phones should be discouraged. If an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, all contacts must be traced and screened, he said.
"Ensure each worshipper uses their personal mat (Sajaada), or disinfect mats provided by the mosque before and after use. Ablution should be performed in the house by adherents before entering the Mosque.
" Use easily removable footwear such as slippers, allow people to come out of the mosque to collect slippers one after the other instead of crowding at the entrance, put a bowl at the entrance of the mosque for the offering of Fisabilillah," he said.
"Sanitize microphones immediately after each use. Spend at least five minutes of worship time to educate mosque attendees on Covid-19," the Minister said.
He noted that self-regulation was expected of churches, mosques and all other religious organizations however, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Local Government in collaboration with Ghana Health Service officials shall take enforcement responsibilities.
According to him, "Where necessary, the state security services, shall ensure enforcement of these protocols. There will be random enforcement checks to ensure compliance adding that a Church or Mosque or other religious bodies that violates the laid down protocols would be dealt with appropriately."
"A Church or Mosque or other religious organizations in violation could be closed down.
The Leaders in charge will equally be held liable. The District Assemblies and monitoring teams are on hand to ensure compliance with the directives," he said.