Editorial : Religious bodies must not rock the COVID-19 boat

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President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Rev. Professor Frimpong-Manso, is certainly a voice of reason – as he is asking religious bodies not to rush the president into taking a decision to re-open churches in the wake of increasing numbers of COVID-19 in Ghana.

This is in view of the fact that churches are beckoning government to lift the ban on public gatherings, so that they can operate. They are even saying they are prepared to uphold social distancing when holding church services, in a bid to convince government that religious bodies are responsible enough to ensure certain health protocols are upheld.

However, as restrictions are gradually being eased, government is engaging various interest groups to see the way forward; so that while the virus remains in the ecosystem, Ghanaians can go about their lives and business observing strict health protocols like social distancing and regularly washing hands with soap.

Ordinarily, Rev. Professor Frimpong-Manso as a clergyman would like to see the church operating; but in view of the seriousness of the pandemic at hand, he is urging restraint until government is convinced that lifting the ban will not occasion more harm to Ghanaians.

The issue is both sensitive and complicated, and Ghanaians need to exercise maximum restraint until the state lifts the restrictions it sought Parliament’s approval to impose. Even with the easing of some restrictions, people operate as if it is business as usual.

For instance, a cursory stroll through the central business of Accra – a COVID-19 hotspot – traders and commuters blatantly disregard social distancing; while many don’t wear a face mask even though they are in a crowded vicinity.

Imagine if the restrictions are lifted while the virus is still active in our midst; many would revert to normal life and carry on as if there is nothing at stake. Public transport drivers find it difficult to observe social distancing, because at the end of the day they want to make ends meet.

Therefore, we ought to tread cautiously and remember that the number of infections are still spiking, so this is not the time to rest on our oars. We have entered a new era and we have to remember that we certainly are not in normal times.

Government has a duty to protect Ghanaians, and it will not rush unduly to put us in harm’s way. Let’s give it the benefit of doubt and abide by its directives.

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