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COVID-19 restrictions expected to be eased by Nana Addo in Sunday’s address

There is increasing expectation that President Nana Akufo-Addo will ease the restrictions on public gatherings this weekend.

Significant indicators have pointed to the fact that there will be a clear plan for the easing of the restrictions.

President Akufo-Addo, while addressing the nation at the 2020 Virtual Eid-ul-Fitr Celebration on May 24 said the state will conclude a roadmap for easing restrictions by the end of the week so he “can announce to Ghanaians a clear roadmap for easing the restrictions.”

“We have to find a way back, but in safety, for we cannot be under these restrictions forever,” he said.

Aside from the President, the Senior Minister earlier revealed that there would be a stakeholder meeting on Friday ahead of President Akufo-Addo’s tenth address to the nation on the government’ handling of the pandemic on Sunday.

Indications from Mr. Osafo-Maafo are that there is a roadmap being finalised that will be presented to stakeholders.

“Almost all the identifiable groups who matter in this have all had close discussions with us,” he told Citi News. “Our experts have also continued these discussions and on Friday we will put all of these together on the best advice available to make the best decision.”

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Flagbearer, John Mahama is also expecting a significant easing of restrictions and has called on the government to first conduct more widespread testing.

“…in the face of the imminent easing of restrictions, let me repeat the call on the government to consider conducting mass testing, at least, at the point of need,” Mr. Mahama said in a tweet.

In the President’s May 11 address to the nation, he extended the ban on gatherings to May 31.

The public gathering advisories were first put in place on March 15, 2020, when Ghana had six cases of the virus. All international border crossings were also closed.

Ghana currently has 7,303 cases of the virus.

The ban covered conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, church activities and other related events as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.

There is also a ban on funerals, other than private burials, which have more than 25 persons.

Aside from the public gathering advisories, there was also three-week partial lockdown of Accra, Kasoa, Kumasi and Tema which pushed the economy to its limits.

Ghana’s restrictions were among the most flexible on the continent as the government placed an emphasis on testing.

Since the lockdown was lifted, there has been a lack of social distancing in market areas although the government has tried to compensate by making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public.

The first hint of restrictions being lifted was when the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) announced that hotels, restaurants and bars could resume operations albeit with enhanced social distancing protocols.

But there was a quick u-turn from the state with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture saying drinking bars and night clubs should remain closed.

Whilst there has not been much of a clamour for the re-opening of churches, there has been consistent debate on the nature of restrictions for schools.

There have been some calls for a compromise, with some suggesting shift systems or the re-opening for just final year students.

The Four pre-tertiary teacher unions; Ghana National Association of Teachers, National Association of Graduate Teachers, Tertiary Education Workers’ Union and Coalition of Concerned Teachers have, however, registered their opposition to the reopening of schools.

The Parents Teacher Association and School Management Committees has also advised the government against the reopening of schools because it will put the lives of teachers and students in danger.

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