The Coalition of Muslim Organisations, Ghana (COMOG) on Monday advised Muslims not to throng mosques as the Government has eased restrictions on religious meetings but to allow the necessary COVID-19 preventive measures to work.
Hajj Abdel-Manan Abdel-Rahman, the COMOG President, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said though the restriction on meeting at mosques had been eased it was important for Muslims to take their time as the COVID-19 situation had not yet normalised.
He said even though some countries had the same maximum number of 100 congregants in mosques, the mosques still remained closed to avoid any happenings that would further spread the disease.
“COMOG is advising Muslims leaders not to rush in opening mosques for congregational prayers, we will support any decision and directives by the National Chief Imam in this regard,” he said.
“All Muslims have to await for the final decision from the National Chief Imam on how best congregational prayers could be effectively carried out.”
Nii Okai Aryee, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM), has outlined a number of activities they would embark on before allowing congregational prayers to take place.
He said the Mission had plans to fumigate and disinfect the Mission and schools, organise clean up exercises, arrange for medical practitioners to educate members on COVID-19 and observe the safety protocols.
He added that markings would be made at the mosque to allow people to observe social distancing, whilst Veronica buckets would also be provided for handwashing to contain the spread of the disease.
Mr Mustapha Mawuli, the Public Relations Officer of Ghana Academy of Muslim Professionals, told the GNA that although the move to relax the restrictions was good, it could pose problems due to the lackadaisical attitudes by some people.
“I will rather urge the Chief Imam to engage all community leaders to insist that all mats and Ablution kettles be removed from all mosques.”
“Everyone coming to pray must perform ablution at home or buy pure water sachet to do same. They must also come along with their own mats. No one should share his or her mat with anyone,” he stated.
Hajia Fatima Dorkenoo, an Administrator of a construction firm, also expressed her disagreement with the opening of mosques.
She added that the means of getting infected from the place of worship, especially the mosque, was imminent as “from the prayer mats in the mosques, kettle used for ablution, the likely disregard for prayer time among others nullifies the whole process”.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during his 10th COVID-19 National Address on Sunday, outlined an abridged format for religious services to commence from June 5 amid the Coronavirus pandemic as part of Ghana’s quest of easing the restrictions on social gatherings and safety protocols.
The directives require that religious leaders ensured a mandatory one-metre rule of social distancing between congregants. In addition, it is mandatory for the wearing of masks for all persons at all times in churches and mosques.
Each religious facility is also mandated to keep a register of names and contact details of all worshippers, fixed handwashing facilities and make provision for sanitizers.
According to the Presidential Directives each service is to last a maximum of one hour.
Religious institutions that were desirous of opening their premises to their members, such as churches, mosques and others, must disinfect, fumigate and put in place the requisite logistics needed to guarantee safe opening and operation.
They must work with the designated, regulatory bodies and undertake test runs of the protocols outlined.
President Akufo-Addo said the Minister of Religious Affairs would, from Monday, June 1, outline in detail the specific guidelines for the safe reopening of the churches and mosques.
He explained that the decision to gradually ease the COVID-19 restrictions was reached by consensus, which emerged from consultations with various stakeholders who advised that “the country should embark on a strategic, controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get our lives and economy back to normal”.
“Ours is going to be a phased approach, involving a selected list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact, and, most importantly, our capacity to enforce and to respond in the event of a flare up in our number of infections.”